With no licensing authority, Kerala Ayurveda drug makers in crisis

Drug makers planning to shift base to other states, a move which bodes ill for Ayurveda and the economy
With no licensing authority, Kerala Ayurveda drug makers in crisis

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Ayurveda drugs manufacturing units in the state, which are the major suppliers of traditional Ayurvedic medicines in India, are undergoing a crisis due to a prolonged delay in appointing the licensing authority. Though the government had completed the selection process and almost finalised the officer, the High Court directed the state to revise the norms for the appointment and restart the selection process, which has added to the logjam.

In the past eight months, the Drugs Control Department has not issued certificates such as free sale certificate, product certificate, non-convention certificate, 25 d licence and 26 e licence. Due to the delay, manufacturers are planning to shift base to other states, which will badly impact the Ayurveda drugs sector as well as the economy of Kerala.

It has been almost a year that the Deputy Drugs Controller (Ayurveda) vacancy has been lying idle. Many of the manufacturing units that have invested lakhs of rupees in the business are on the verge of closure. Apart from this, there will also be a drugs shortage in the state.

The High Court had given the direction on a petition filed by the incumbent Deputy Drugs Controller (Ayurveda), whose deputation tenure ended long ago. The petition was filed after the government started the selection process excluding the Deputy Drugs Controller’s name, but inviting a panel from the Directorate of Ayurveda Medical Education (DAME) and the Drugs Control Department.Meanwhile, Health Secretary Rajeev Sadanandan said that the norms are being revised and are under preparation as per the direction from the court. The appointment will be made at the earliest, he said.

The delay in appointment is alleged to have happened because of the incumbent Deputy Drugs Controller (Ayurveda) coming out against the government’s decision to remove her from the post of state licensing authority and to appoint a new person. She has been in the post for the past six years on deputation, getting two extensions.

The two extensions are alleged to have been given under political pressure. Despite the presence of qualified officers in the Drugs Control Department, it was alleged that top CPM leaders had interfered for facilitating the two terms of extension. Moreover, it is said that there is pressure on the government to give one more extension.Noting that the Ayurveda sector was facing a big crisis due to the delay in appointing the licensing authority, Ayurveda Medicine Manufacturers Organisation of India general secretary Dr D Ramanathan said that licences are not being revised and new ones are not being issued.

“If the drug licensing authority is not appointed at the earliest, then there will be no end to the ongoing crisis and many of the manufacturers will have no choice but to leave the state,” added Ramanathan.Ayurveda drugs manufacturing companies have submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, urging him to appoint the drug licensing authority at the earliest.

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