Homeopathic sweet pill turns bitter for millions-The big question of expiry date in Homoeopathic Medicines under GMP
Millions of homeopathic patients throughout the country will be without medicines if West Bengal takes the lead and sets an example by regulating or banning all medicine manufacturers who do not follow the Good Medicine Practice (GMP) norms of the Central Health Ministry.
At present, just six of the 264 medicine manufacturers of homeopathy follow the norms and have received the GMP certificates. The drug controller has given the rest time till March 31 to adhere to the norms or face closure.
Dr Sajal Roy Chowdhury, Drug Controller, Bengal circle, told India Today that they would look at the problem from "human angle" and were thus giving a time extension. "However, if they do not fulfil the conditions, we will come down heavily on them." Since the figure in Bengal itself is so high, it can well be understood what can possibly be the picture in the rest of the country, particularly the suburbs and villages, where the use of the sweet pills are rampant.
Dr Chowdhury said there were various criteria like area, surroundings, utensil classifications, potency and documentation regarding homeo medicine which were totally different from allopathic measures. "Ïn allopath, we have standard rules and ways to verify them. Sadly, throughout the world, there is no regulatory body involving homeopathy medicine and its dilution which can make or mar a medicine batch."
He said strict inspection was now in progress. There are around 2,200 outlets selling homeopathy medicines in Kolkata alone.
He said the doctors were not complaining but it was time the government on its own took some step. "We need labs to standardise these medicine norms. Since homeopathy is now being used even for ailments like cancer, we must see to it that norms are followed. Otherwise, there may be a calamity one day."
Internationally famous homeopath Dr Pratip Banerjee said, "The main problem is that we have to rely on our instincts for dilution purposes on which the practice of homeopathy depends. Every medicine has 10 to 12 potency and dilution variations. That needs to be monitored."
He said if the government does finally come down heavily on manufacturers then there would be a catastrophe. "Nowadays, I can say with responsibility that 60 to 70 per cent of patients throughout India depend largely on homeopathy for various diseases. We get 1,000 patients a day at our clinic. Our popularity is because homoeopathy can be used alongside allopathy medicine. For example, if a patient is being treated by allopathy for diabetes, there is no harm in taking our medicines for ulcers."
Dr Banerjee said that if the rules come into force, then the drug manufacturers will be more careful about the norms. "This caution may work out to our advantage. But it is a shocking figure that only six manufacturers have the certificate. This needs to be looked into seriously."
He said homeopathy was gaining popularity every day because of its easy availability, cheapness, safety and also because administering it required no cumbersome process. "In a short time, homeopathy will be the king," he added.
Dr Gopal Ghosh, registered at the Council of Homoeopathic Medicine, said right now the state has 28,000 practitioners and there are around 600 licensed pharmacists who could manufacture medicines apart from the big medicine supply houses. "Even they will be affected since they will also have to stick to the norms," he said. Dr Ghosh said that homeopathy was the principal mode of treatment in India till a few decades back when every village headmaster was a homoeopath."