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Rediff.com  » Business » For Ayush medicines, all's in a name

For Ayush medicines, all's in a name

Last updated on: November 05, 2013 09:28 IST

AyushSeveral manufacturers of popular Ayurvedic, Siddha and Unani products might soon have to re-brand their drugs to comply with a notification issued by the health ministry.

The ministry has asked these companies to remove all suffixes and prefixes to the original name of ayurvedic, siddha or unani medicines.

Many such products, such as chyawanprash, rhumayog and others are currently marketed under different brand names, with prefixes and suffixes to reflect the value-added qualities.

For instance, chyawanprash is sold under brands like Sona Chandi Chyawanprash, Chyawanprash Special and Chawanprakash Sugar Free.

Similarly, there are other products like Drakshasava Special, Rhumayog Gold, etc.

Major players in this segment include Zandu, Dabur and Himalaya, which sell ayurvedic products under various brand names.

According to an executive at one of these firms, products are still called by their original names, though their original formulations might have been tweaked.

“The idea is to maintain the original formulation.

“As soon as one chooses to move away from the formula of the scriptures, the name has to change but this should not be in the form of a prefix or a suffix to the original name,” he said.

The notification, issued by the government in the last week of October, says: “No manufacturer shall use any prefix or suffix with the name of ayurveda, siddha or unani medicine falling within the purview of clause (a) of Section 3 of the Act. . .”

The rule is part of Drugs and Cosmetics (5th Amendment) Rules, 2013.

Industry estimates suggest, the market for ayurvedic, unani, siddha and Homoeopathic (Ayush) products, including drugs, over-the-counter and wellness products, treatment and herbal extracts, is worth about Rs 9,000 crore (Rs 90 billion).

And, it has been growing at an annual rate of 20 per cent.

Ayurveda alone accounts for around Rs 5,000 crore (Rs 50 billion) of annual sales.

These products’ exports had risen from Rs 617.87 crore (Rs 6.17 billion) in 2005-06 to Rs 1,335.01 crore (Rs 13.35 billion) in 2009-10.

Major export markets for Ayush include Europe, US, Japan and Southeast Asia.

An industry official said the move had come amid concerns that traditional medicines were being misused by some companies for commercial gains, making these streams lose their identity and sanctity.

“The government feels the sanctity of Ayush products should be maintained; for that, these need to be promoted by their original names.

“By attaching a prefix or suffix, names of these products are mimicked and distorted,” he said.

Branding experts say the government’s directive might have a huge impact on ayurvedic products, as companies often use suffixes or prefixes to differentiate their products from others’.

“Such a move can be detrimental for companies selling ayurvedic products.

“Most companies use these to change generic names and brand their own products.

“It is important to distinguish between products of different companies,” says Susan Josi, managing partner, Sorento Healthcare Communications, a healthcare advertising agency.

According to the notification, companies are also required to seek licences for new names of their products within a year.

While it is increasingly becoming difficult for healthcare companies to support individual branding, the best way is to focus on the umbrella or group brand, says Josi.

At present, many companies are already selling some of these products by their original names under their umbrella brand.

For instance, Zandu, apart from selling variants like Sona Chandi Chyawanprash, also sells Zandu Chyawanprash and Zandu Kesari Jivan.

Similarly, Dabur sells Dabur Chyawanprash as a standalone product.

Various ayurvedic products sold by Himalaya are currently represented by their original names, such as ashvagandha, amalaki, brahmi, gokshura, lasuna, manjishtha, etc.

Preserving a legacy

Rs 9,000 crore (Rs 90 billion)

Estimated annual market for Ayush products (growing at 20%)

Rs 5,000 crore

Annual sales of Ayurveda alone

110% growth

Export of Ayush products rose from Rs 617.87 crore (Rs 6.17 billion) in 2005-06 to Rs 1,335.01 crore (Rs 13.35 billion) in 2009-10

Key markets: Major export markets for Ayush products include Europe, the US, Japan and Southeast Asia

Photograph courtesy: www.ayush.com

Sushmi Dey in New Delhi
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