Budget 2021: Ayurvedic medication makes big comeback during COVID-19 pandemic! Experts seek more support for R&D

Union Budget 2021 India: Ayurveda is believed to go to the root cause of the ailment and is known for preventive treatment.

Budget 2021-22, Union Budget 2021, ayurveda, covid19
Experts say that the traditional herbs slow down the spread of coronavirus infection, providing first aid.

Indian Union Budget 2021-22: The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented health crisis worldwide. Researchers and scientists across the world have been burning the midnight oil to find a cure. Talking about India, several vaccines are in the last phase of clinical trials and are about to be ready for being administered to the people. But very limited data have been made available about the safety and efficacy of these vaccines in humans, not to mention the long-term effectiveness. Experts believe that it helped natural medicines – which have existed for centuries – get much-needed attention. They say that the traditional herbs slow down the spread of coronavirus infection, providing first aid.

Dr Vijaykumar Kamat – Medical Director, Biogetica – told Financial Express Online that Ayurveda is not only addressing the symptoms but also preventing future COVID complications.

Dr Kamat also said that in the last nine months of the Coronavirus pandemic, enough cases have been made for supplementing COVID-19 treatment with natural medicine. “There are data to show that mortality rates have decreased in the states and countries where natural medicines were incorporated for immune balancing and to aid recovery from coronavirus infection. Apart from this, a ground-breaking interim result of a clinical trial of COVID-19 patients has given rise to new hope. The clinical trial conducted in three different hospitals gave COVID-19 patients the combination treatment of an Ayurveda remedy known as ‘Immunofree’ and ‘Reginmune’. The results were unexpected and show how nature in its original perfection can outperform and complement synthetic molecules as medicine,” the medical director of Biogetica said.

Echoing the same sentiment, Girish Soman- Founder & CEO, Nisarga Biotech – said that the pandemic has certainly revived people’s faith in traditional medications and they are making deliberate lifestyle changes, opting for Ayurvedic products and seeing their benefits over daily consumption.

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“With the advent of the pandemic, the general awareness about home remedies and natural way of boosting immunity have definitely given a boost to the natural product industry. Medicines supporting stress, sleeplessness, immunity boosters, and anti-inflammatories have received a nice boost in these times of pandemic,” Soman said.

Benefits Or Advantages Of Natural Medicines

Ayurveda is believed to go to the root cause of the ailment and is known for preventive treatment. “Most natural medicines especially Ayurvedic medicines try to cure the basal cause of the disease and not just treat symptoms. So, they are safer for long term use and can be used to manage chronic conditions,” the CEO of Nisarga Biotech said.

“Another factor, when it comes to especially vaccines, is that a vaccine might be rendered useless or need to be reworked upon if a virus mutates a certain number of times. But natural medicines, since they are not dependent on the biology of the pathogen but in enhancing the immune system of the person, they might be a suitable alternative,” he added.

Challenges Faced By This Industry

Dr Kamat stressed that many people still find it hard to accept that Ayurveda is equally efficient in delivering proficient treatment. He also underlined the importance of introducing new technologies in Ayurveda on the lines of modern medicines that have been extraordinarily developed with the amalgamation of technology in the field of diagnostic, prognosis, and curative procedures.

“Our government should find ways and means to provide Ayurveda doctors opportunities to improve their training, clinical skills, research capabilities, and more than anything to develop confidence in their respective professional areas,” he said.

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He feels that there should be standardization and the government should come up with specific guidelines for manufacturers, natural medicine practitioners, and academics.

“Since there is a robust change in demand for natural medicines, the government has to come with a stimulus package to support this industry that is innovative in nature.”

Pointing other challenges faced by the industry, Soman said that counterfeit and less than desirable quality products have been the bane from day one. Questionable practices by companies leading to inferior, non-standardized products are also a cause of concern as it gives a bad reputation to the industry as a whole.

“If someone buys a product and it fails to give desired results, customers often blame the medicinal system instead of the company that is making poor quality products. Also, when we say medicine, people today want an instant cure which is very hard to deliver when you want everything natural and free of chemicals or synthetics. There is a large need of education on this front for the people. Lastly, companies in this industry make tall claims when they really don’t have a lot of scientific research to proven claims. This leads to a general lack of trust in the minds of the public,” he added.

Expectations from Budget 2021

Experts feel that that the government should support smaller companies on research and development by funding R&D labs or giving tax rebates on certified labs as it would help increase research drive as well as zeal in the industry.

Soman said that Industry would like to have additional deductions or tax rebates for R&D spending along with special grants for companies doing good work. “Research and Development grant funding should be increased and funding for FDA and FSSAI should be increased so more people can be hired and faster actions can be taken on grassroots level,” he said.

Dr Kamat said that the government has to come up with packages, institutions, and industries to support the natural system of medicines.

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First published on: 31-12-2020 at 16:37 IST