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THE PHARMA REVIEW (DECEMBER 2008)

The Technological Base of Traditional Ayurvedic Drug Industry - A Need for its Strengthening

Dr. T.S. Muraleedharan

The contemporary Ayurvedic drug manufacturing activity is just like any other industrial activity. There are diverse components which propel its growth and expansion. They include its typical knowledge base, human resource support, financial pressures, statutory controls, managerial and administrative practices, market forces and technological procedures. It is in its typically Indian knowledge base that it distinguishes itself from the other industrial endeavours. This knowledge base has some very unique features. It is essentially a subjective and esoteric body of human wisdom comprising assumptions, intuitions, propositions and assertions. Yet it has its own axiomatic framework of principles and practices based on a rugged system of logical and correlative set of theories, corollaries and deductions. Empiricism may seem conspicuous by its very absence. Even then, time-tested applications of theories and useful development of therapeutic products and modalities are there for every one to see, which prove the scientific veracity of this knowledge base. But the point is that this vast body of knowledge has originated from a socio-cultural milieu which is far removed from the current realities. And every other important component of the Ayurvedic industry, as seen above, is typically modern in its theory and practice. Whether it is HR practice, financial planning, market development or technological innovations, the guiding parameters form part of contemporary knowledge system and they are necessarily to be developed by modern scientific methods.
 
There could be, and there indeed is, an internal contradiction between the paradigms of the Ayurvedic knowledge base and the operating principles of modern industrial practices. Many are the examples. The Ayurvedic classics mostly envisage preparation of tailor-made medicaments in single dose batch size. The modern technology would obviously prefer scaled up bulk level production of universalised medicines. The classics have not paid much attention to user-compliance of drugs in terms of their taste and dose factor. The modern market is very sensitive to user responses in such aspects. Similar other instances of contradictory perceptions can be enumerated. Some of them happen to be very crucial, particularly when they pertain to the domain of medicine processing. The temperature of decoction cooking, the level of fermentation, the detoxification of metals, etc are typical examples.
 
In this scenario, some of the majors in the Ayurvedic manufacturing segment deserve to be congratulated for the courageous, ingenious and pragmatic measures they have initiated to bring up their industry on par with other modern industries. They have achieved this remarkable feat by successfully attempting to bridge the epistemological gap existing between the Ayurvedic knowledge base and the modern industrial and technological methods. Until very recent past, they hardly received any Governmental patronage in this regard.

 

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