India has finally decided to get its act together on improving quality of plant-based drugs. It promises not only to get a large number of laboratories activated on testing them, but also seeks to start registering farmers who produce medicinal plants to ensure the raw material itself meets standards. The first meeting of a recently constituted Medicinal Plants Board listed a series of measures to boost the medicinal plants sector.
As a first step, licensed manufacturers of drugs making use of plant-based material will be asked to submit a list of materials used to the state drugs licensing authorities. This will ensure right quantity of material used as well as help build a database on the use of plants. The board has decided to start a registration of farmers who cultivate medicinal plants. The registration system was not being done to start policing farmers but only to streamline the demand and supply position. The board is also proposing a buyback arrangement for cultivators as they face an uncertain market.
For an improved system of testing, the government has decided to recognise private testing laboratories. A notification is being issued for encouraging people to get these drugs tested, perhaps for a small fee, under the Drugs and Cosmetics Act.