One of the exciting growth areas in the pharmaceutical sector is in the Ayurvedic industry. While many of Indian pharma companies are now major global players, Ayurvedic manufacturers are also catching up. This is mostly because the market for herbal cosmetics and alternative medicine is expected to grow significantly int he next decade - two sectors that are of interest to Ayurvedic manufacturers.
However, this has not been without its challenges. In fact, compared to conventional pharma manufacturers, Ayurvedic industry has faced bigger obstacles in the form of prejudice and ignorance. Some of the challenges they face are:
- Concerns over Ayurvedic formulations, specifically the use of heavy metals
- Lack of standardization
- High pollution leading to faulty ingredients
- Few Ayurvedic practitioners
- Lack of awareness about Ayurveda in Western nations
- Lack of presence in formal medical sector
- Aggressive marketing by conventional pharma or cosmetic companies
Sourcing from organic farms: One of the biggest challenges was the quality of ingredients, especially the herbs and plant extracts. Rising soil pollution and presence of harmful pesticides effects the quality of the overall formulation. A number of Ayurvedic manufacturers faced punitive action in some countries after the harmful chemicals were detected. To counter this, manufacturers have shifted their focus on sourcing. A number of manufacturers now source their material from certified organic farms. With no pesticides or other harmful chemicals used in agricultural practices, the produce form these farms are deemed to be safe to use.
Setting up of standards: One of the problems in Ayurvedic products was the absence of a strict protocols that are applied to conventional medicine. The presence of such rules and regulations mean that the end product is reliable and safe to use. To meet this requirement, the government has now set up a regulatory mechanism whereby all products are tested and certified. The Ayurvedic medicines have to certified by the Ministry of AYUSH. The ministry provides three types of manufacturing licenses: complete manufacturing license, loan license and third party manufacturing. Certified products now carry the AYUSH mark.
Strict control on manufacturing process: As per the certification regime, Ayurvedic manufactures have to now exercise strict control over the manufacturing process. The guidelines specify the size of premises, number of rooms, presence of experts, packaging, manufacturing, registration and inspections. Under this regime the manufacturers are forced to implement recognized manufacturing practices to ensure that the products meet required quality standards.
Raising awareness: There has been an effort by the manufacturers to raise awareness about Ayurvedic products in the Indian as well as Western markets. This was achieved by articles, blogs and the social media. Since there is little awareness of Ayurvedic principles, practices and its rich and ancient history, this education is important in raising awareness about Ayurveda. In addition to information on Ayurveda, manufacturers are also focusing on raising awareness about the standardization of the industry.
Government involvement: The market prospects of the Ayurvedic industry has changed significantly because of government involvement. Under the Ministry of AYUSH the Indian government has sworn commitment to the propagation and encouragement of Ayurveda. As a result there is now standardization of products, encouragement to Ayurvedic teaching and the propagation of Ayurvedic products.
Improvement in packaging: Ayurvedic products, especially in the cosmetics department, face stiff competition from big companies that have years of branding and product packaging. Traditionally made as simple pastes or powders, Ayurvedic products looked like poor cousins next to their slickly packaged competitors. But now more and more Ayurvedic manufacturers are coming up with luxurious packaging that looks as good as the best in the market.
Rising consciousness towards herbal remedies: Whether it comes to herbal medicines or cosmetics, worldwide people are becoming increasingly conscious about the presence of chemicals or other ingredients that can cause side effects. Ayurvedic manufacturers have used this opportunity to emphasize their time-tested formulations and the natural origin. The has helped in increasing the popularity of Ayurveda worldwide.
Although it is one of the most ancient science of wellbeing in the world, Ayurvedic manufacturers have had to face some daunting odds to be accepted. They have achieved this through measures like improving manufacturing standards and by careful sourcing of ingredients