Do AYUSH products really worth the definition of Drug?
How AYUSH products worth the definition of ‘drug’, why the different systems under AYUSH are promoted & popularized as systems of medicine, why we produce AYUSH graduates as doctor without any scientifically proven curative drugs in the system from where they are graduated and why we legalize cross paths and issue ‘half-ticket’ to institutionally qualified the AYUSH vaidyas to enter into allopathi
How AYUSH products worth the definition of ‘drug’, why the different systems under AYUSH are promoted & popularized as systems of medicine, why we produce AYUSH graduates as doctor without any scientifically proven curative drugs in the system from where they are graduated and why we legalize cross paths and issue ‘half-ticket’ to institutionally qualified the AYUSH vaidyas to enter into allopathic practice through back door? All the above questions require national debate.
Some AYUSH vaidyas have claimed that AYUSH products prevent the occurrence of many diseases and promote health and hence would qualify the definition of drug.
They even cited the guidelines of US FDA to support their claim. In a way, they have conceded to the fact that prima fascia AYUSH products are not drugs with any proven curative value like allopathic drugs. But they claim, AYUSH products would prevent diseases. The question is how they prevent the occurrence of many diseases and which are those diseases definitely need scientific proof?
Do the AYUSH products prevent diseases due to opportunistic pathogens or true pathogens?
Drugs can be broadly classified into two types such as curative drugs and preventive drugs.
Vaccines fall into the category of preventive drug. Many vaccines do elicit specific immune response resulting in specific antibody production to offer life-long protection against certain pathogens. Polio vaccine is the best example.
How AYUSH products offer protection against diseases? Do they elicit an immune response against many pathogens? What other mechanism is there that would offer disease resistance to humans?
Some AYUSH vaidyas have come up with another story that AYUSH products would increase immunity? How do we measure whether immunity is increased or not? Even if the immunity is increased, does that mean such immunity will offer disease resistance? Then all hyperimmune persons should be resistant to many diseases. Even many vaccines do not offer any such hope to us?
Is there any challenge study data to prove the disease preventive effects of any AYUSH products to back such claim?
When we make something holy and holier than the holy cow, should we not hold the responsibility to provide scientific evidence and proof to support the claim?
Another claim is that Siddha system has evolved much before the advent of the allopathic system. Certainly it is correct. But the bizarre interpretation is that people survived in ancient times (before allopathic system) may be due to Siddha drugs. If the above were true, how allopathic system could overpower such an effective system?
Other pertinent question also comes up for our discussion. People in the past were using AYUSH products. But whether those products served the purpose or not is unknown due to the complete absence of an effective allopathic system to compare in those days. Therefore either independent or on a comparison basis, the true drug effects of such AYUSH products were not known.
But with the advent of allopathic science, AYUSH products become obsolete purely because of lack of merit and efficacy. Just on the promise, hype, and mirage, no system can survive forever.
The critical question is should we crush and bulldoze the ancient system as totally meaningless because we have an effective allopathic system is available?
Definitely, we should not adopt such policy or approach. But promoting such archaic system as medical science and drug and cure based system without establishing the merit through globally accepted scientific studies will only take the sheen away from AYUSH.
However deep we may wish burry ourselves in our ancient tradition, 5000-year-old legacy, and empirical evidence, all our efforts would be like providing bow and arrow to our military force to fight the war.
We have the legacy of great Mahabharat war which was fought and won mainly with bow and arrow, Rama killed Ravana, Tanaka, March, Bali etc., with bow and arrow. Such citations although may look logical and convincing but is absurd and foolish.
Today’s context we need a scientifically proven system of medicine. Some of the philosophies of AYUSH may provide some insight. YOGA is widely accepted because it is promoted as non-drug therapy system. Similarly, acupuncture also got a great level of acceptance over Traditional Chinese medicine because of its no drug therapy approach.
Promoting AYUSH as drug and cure based system will only defeat AYUSH and expose its emptiness. The reason for rampant cross paths by large section of AYUSH vaidyas in private practice is only due to such emptiness of AYUSH products which we are unfortunately promoting as drug and cure based medical system!!!
Won’t some AYUSH products offer any health benefit like Chyavanaprash le him? Certainly some AYUSH products do offer a health benefit. Such benefits are exactly like that of food and neutraceuticals. If we promote AYUSH for its paramedical value and produce AYUSH graduates for providing the wonderful paramedical benefits of AYUSH, certainly the acceptance of AYUSH would go great. Fair meaning for both the service provider and service recipient of AYUSH can be achieved by promoting AYUSH as paramedical practice.
The aggressive effort of the Government may tempt many people to experiment AYUSH products but no effort or incentive can really make people continue with AYUSH therapy if the treatment fails to offer the desired benefits. Therefore, we must sincerely ensure AYUSH products worth the salt before we promote them as drugs.
If we fail to do so, people from AYUSH will helplessly attempt to define AYUSH products from curative drugs to preventive drugs to health promotive drugs to what not? The poor gullible people in rural India would fall prey to such false promises and would burn their meager earnings just to learn that AYUSH products don’t work like drugs.
We can regulate AYUSH products through Drugs and Cosmetic Act 1945, create drug licensing system for issuance of manufacturing license to AYUSH products, we can over cry the legacy and tradition AYUSH but nothing can prove AYUSH products worth the definition – Drug from science and efficacy per se.
It is not the word, only meaning, it is not tradition, trustworthiness and it is not promising but proven science alone can give the title ‘drug’ to AYUSH products.
Dr. S Ranganathan