TOI, VARANASI: With an aim to spread consumer awareness about ayurvedic medicine, the department of rasa shastra, under the faculty of ayurveda at Banaras Hindu University (BHU), has made a draft for ‘development of consumer guidelines for appropriate use of ayurvedic medicines’.
The final draft has been made under the WHO appraisal project work (APW), a part of WHO-government of India programme. It aims at propagating consumer medical information (CMI) to dispel misconceptions and myths associated with age-old traditional medicine system.
Around 400 questionnaires for physicians and consumers were sent across the country and 273 responses were collected from various parts. Out of this, 58 responses were made available online that showed encouraging interest among physicians and consumers, he added. It may be mentioned here that the project sponsored by WHO had begun on July 1 this year. The duration of the project was from July 1 to October 31 this year, but it was later extended till December 25 with a mutual agreement between WHO and BHU.
The findings of the project and surveys have also been published in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrated Medicine, volume 2, issue 4 (October-December 2011). Saying that a strong communication is needed at the mass level to give people a better understanding of what ayurvedic medicines are, how they perform, what their risks and benefits may be and what role they play in healthcare, Dr Chaudhary, an associate professor in the department of rasa shastra, emphasised the need for consumer medicine information (CMI) which formed the basis of development of consumer guidelines.
The CMI is an important tool for consumers and for healthcare professional. It supports information exchange and helps in developing strong relationships between these groups. It can help foster informed decision-making and aid better compliance, he added. It is also worth mentioning that drugs and therapies in ayurvedic systems of medicine are increasingly invoking interest within the country as well as abroad.
Except for a few well know names in the field, hardly any person is aware that the range of products runs into an inventory of anything from 200 to 20,0000 products produced by over 8,000 manufacturers. Very few people know the difference between branded products and classical products.
They also do not know that certain manufacturers have indeed conducted studies on toxicology, that they have undertaken animal studies to determine safety and efficacy and their products are comparatively of higher standard.
Besides, lack of regulatory norms, shortage of quality medicines, poor communication between prescribers and patients and exclusion of patients from the information needed to become partners in therapy compounds the problems.
Hopefully, the development of consumer guidelines would remove the problems and spread awareness for appropriate use of ayurvedic medicines, said the principal investigator.
Now, the next promoting steps would be to develop a mandatory regulation for CME certifications of all ayurvedic physicians after a certain interval to update them about recent development.
Similarly, developing more strict parameters in the language of contemporary science for standardisation, quality control, safety and stability profile of ayurvedic medicines along with development of new drugs based on ayurvedic doctrines for new ailments of world are also in the pipeline, added Dr Chaudhary.
Apart from Dr Chaudhary, many ayurveda professionals participated in the process of draft finalisation. The team included R H Singh, from department of kaya chikitsa, BHU; Manjari Dwivedi (prasuti tantra), BHU; Abhimayu Kumar (department of bal roga, Jaipur), Manoranjan Sahu (shalya department, BHU), Ashmita Wele (Bharti Vidyapeeth, Pune), Dr Anup Thakar and Dr Neeraj Kumar from the department of rasa shastra, BHU.