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India’s backward traditional medical system!


Estimates vary but ‘modern’ medicine derives drugs and active molecules from pretty traditional sources. Time to take a 2ndlook at ‘modern medicine’.

This is even more truer of India!

This is even more truer of India!

The controversy centres on the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, a searchable database of more than 230,000 formulations. Some 200 researchers took eight years to create the database after scouring ancient texts on Indian systems of medicine — Ayurveda, Unani, Siddha and Yoga — in Hindi, Sanskrit, Arabic, Persian and Urdu. The database is available in English, Japanese, French, German and Spanish. (via India protects traditional medicines from piracy : Nature News).

‘Discovery’ of ‘modern’ medicine

The Western ‘cure’ for malaria, quinine came from cinchona tree bark – which was a known cure earlier than its ‘discovery’ by the West. The two biggest cancer drugs, vincristine and vinblastine came from the Madagascar periwinkle – which was again part of traditional knowledge. The drug reserpine  comes from Rauwolfia serpentina a plant native to India, Sri Lanka, etc.

With 200.000 plants medications already in a Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, Indian Traditional Medical Pharmacopiea could be the world's largest!

With 200.000 plants medications already in a Traditional Knowledge Digital Library, Indian Traditional Medical Pharmacopiea could be the world’s largest!

By the way, Dr. Mansukh Wani and the late Dr. Monroe Wall, ‘discovered’ another two important compounds in cancer chemotherapy, taxol (extracted from yew trees, most famous being the Himalayan yew) and camptothecin (from the Chinese ‘happy’ tree) – for which they received many awards.

The true source of genius

Dr.RA Mashelkar, a senior scientist and administrator, writes:

“A recent study by an Indian expert group examined randomly selected 762 US patents, which were granted under A61K35/78 and other IPC classes, having a direct relationship with medicinal plants in terms of their full text. Out of these patents, 374 patents were found to be based on traditional knowledge …”

Another writer notes,

in the early 1990s roughly one quarter of all prescription drugs sold in the United States contained plant products – half of those were from the tropics. The value of those compounds was greater than $6 billion per year.

Hiding your sources

In the past few decades, Western ‘innovations’ have proliferated – in basmati rice (by RiceTec), isabgol (psyllium by Kellogg), neem oil (by WR race), haldi, arhar dal extracts, ngali nut (for arthritis, from India, Sri Lanka and Solomon Islands), jar amla (for hepatitis) – and these ‘innovations’ have been exposed for what they are – piracy.

Interestingly, Viagra, the brand name seems to be rip-off from the Sanskrit word for tiger – व्याघ्र vyaghra. Chinese have long believed that tiger bones make a good aphrodisiac.

Yogasanas have been patented in the USA

Yogasanas have been patented in the USA

Based on the above survey and cases, the Indian Government has initiated a project – Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL). Based on TKDL data

The European Patent Office (EPO) has rejected 15 patent applications of various international companies during the past one year after it found they had used India’s traditional medicinal knowledge to prepare certain products.

“We identified 36 cases of bio-piracy and took them with EPO. Fifteen cases have been already rejected by the EPO.

We expect another 21 to be rejected soon,” V K Gupta, Director of Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL), a project to conserve and share the knowledge on the Indian medicine systems, said. The government has embarked upon digitalising the traditional knowledge under TKDL project.

The government started the TKDL project in 2001. About two lakh medical formulations have been digitalised under it.

With more than 200,000 lakhs formulations, stretching to 1 crore pages, the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) is a mine of Indian medical knowledge. It is now exposing how Western drug companies have been using traditional sources to create ‘intellectual property rights and patents – and use the same against the very people who created the knowledge in the first place. The Western pharma industry’s dependence on ever-greening their patents for continued prosperity has hit a wall with the growth in Indian challenge.

Kellogg's Bran Buds cereal containing Isabgol - psyllium husk.

Kellogg’s Bran Buds cereal containing Isabgol – psyllium husk.

For Indian medical systems, it is the beginning of a renewal. For Western medical systems, this the beginning – of the end. And they ‘know’ it.

In February 2002, India, China, Brazil, Indonesia, Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Kenya, Peru, Venezuela and South Africa — countries that are rich in biodiversity — signed an alliance to fight bio-piracy and press for rules protecting their people’s rights to genetic resources found on their land.

It was Einstein who said, “

The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

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  1. A fan of your blog
    August 4, 2010 at 4:06 pm

    There is no doubt that ayurvedic medicine or Indic medicine was extremely prolific. It laid a solid foundation for modern medicine. In fact, all current knowledge is based on traditional knowledge, not just in medcine but in all areas. What some profiteers in the West are doing by copying and patenting this medicine is fundamentally wrong. There are no two ways about it.

    At the same time, please take the time to denounce copying of original drug formulas developed in the West by Indian companies, without paying any royalties to the original discoverer of these drugs in the West. If the position in those cases is that Indian Ayurved developed these drugs in the first place and then the West copied these drugs from the Traditional Knowledge Base, then say so and prove it. Ignoring this means that the Indian government is accessory to the stealing of this IP.

    What you missed to mention is the problem with counterfeit drugs in India. The Dr Mashelkar that you quote is heading an agency of the Indian government that is mandated with the review of drugs regulatory system in India. http://cdsco.nic.in/html/mashelkar.html

    The effectiveness of such committees speak for itself. India is the hub of counterfeit drugs. So not only do manufacturers of Indian drugs copy these formulas outright without paying any royalties, they sometimes do an extremely poor job of it. Others make drugs that are fake. Neither are these manufacturers punished nor are they constrained in any way by authorities. Here are some links that speak for themselves:

    http://newledger.com/2009/03/counterfeit-drug-policy-in-india/
    “India’s major pharmaceutical companies have been badly served by India’s political system. While the Government plays to the militant anti-patent crowd, defending the rights of politically connected companies that enjoy ripping off western patents, it does nothing to improve the image of Indian companies oversees. When the FDA banned the exports to US in fall 2008 of India’s largest drug company, Ranbaxy, it was a major blow to Indian prestige, yet few found the ban unexpected, given the lack of oversight by the Indian Government. Companies like Ranbaxy are always looking for ways to cut costs, and even if top management want to maintain high quality it is very easy for lower level managers to cut corners if there is no local oversight.”

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Counterfeit_medications
    http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/News/News_By_Industry/Healthcare__Biotech/Pharmaceuticals/India_hub_of_counterfeit_drugs_EC/articleshow/2142855.cms
    http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2003/08/03/stories/2003080301260500.htm
    http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=525
    http://blogs.wsj.com/health/2008/05/14/awash-in-counterfeit-drugs-india-may-pay-more-for-foreign-approval/
    http://www.dnaindia.com/money/column_of-generics-politics-and-counterfeit-medicines_1391692
    http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2018/stories/20030912008112200.htm

  2. August 5, 2010 at 7:27 am

    There is no doubt that ayurvedic medicine or Indic medicine was extremely prolific. It laid a solid foundation for modern medicine. In fact, all current knowledge is based on traditional knowledge, not just in medcine but in all areas. What some profiteers in the West are doing by copying and patenting this medicine is fundamentally wrong. There are no two ways about it.

    Quite a turnaround, I am glad!!

    I see that you have not said a word about the Western system of ever-greening patents.

    Penicillin, morphs into hydra-headed patent system with amoxycillion, ampicillin, Penicillin VK, Penicillin G, Dicloxacillin, Oxacillin, Nafcillin, Amoxicillin, pipercillin, et al or when Cimetidine, becomes Ranitidine.

    From your earlier comment.

    That is a very simple case of daylight robbery

    If you call the practices of Indian pharma companies as daylight robbery, what do you call the activities of Western MNCs who are stealing and patenting knowledge that Indians (and others) have gained after thousands of years – and god knows worth how how many gazillions US$? Nightime burglary.

    I completely disagree with your description of daylight robbery. But if valid, what is a lesser evil? Daylight robbery or night-time burglary?

    What one good reason can you give to make me choose to believe the integrity of these companies, when they have been caught flagrantly stealing. We have not recorded their earlier acts of stealing and burglary!

    The drug companies in the West are spending billions of dollars …

    My heart bleeds. You have no idea how many sleepless nights I have spent crying, how many tears I have shed for these noble MNC companies, who have spent billions to improve the lives of us poor Indians!And Africans! The poor!

    😉

    Damn these Indian pharma thieves!!

    I agree with this part of your statement. Western companies are spending billions.

    On lawyers fees, stealing traditional knowledge, ever-greening their patents. After all this, if any of these billions is left, it is spent on research!

    Indian companies are copying these formulas (sometimes doing such a bad job of copying that it creates more harm than good for the patients) and then selling these drugs internationally without paying any royalties to the companies from the West.

    These days the definition of fakes, counterfeit, drugs has been blurred – thanks to the EU!

    A shipment of medicines destined for Brazil, from India, was detained at Rotterdam. The Dutch Customs used a complaint from a local Dutch company, to detain this shipment, based on local patent laws. After a few months of ‘negotiations’, the shipment was sent back to India. An expert writes, what this means. Again coincidentally, India decided to proceed against the EU on the same day as the beginning of the Copenhagen meeting.

    Are you referring to adulterated, mis-labelled, mis-declared products – where a ‘producer’ has deliberately sold a harmful product. I am sure that this is happening all Western countries – more there than here, I am sure! There are laws in place to deal with these crimes!

    Or are you talking of world-class products that a company like Ranbaxy makes, for which Daiichi Sankyo paid nearly US$2.5 billion. A lot of money to pay for a company that best represents Indian pharma companies who do “such a bad job of copying.”

    Truth be told, 99.9% of modern medications have been developed in the West. India has developed no new therapies to speak of. Yet, the Indian government is protecting these copycats by not acknowledging the IP of these companies.

    I do hope you will withdraw this statement – especially in light of the fact that

    in the early 1990s roughly one quarter of all prescription drugs sold in the United States contained plant products – half of those were from the tropics. The value of those compounds was greater than $6 billion per year.

  3. A fan of your blog
    August 6, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    I believe we are discussing two entirely different things here. What you have demonstrated is the historic productivity of Indic medicine system of Ayurved. Sushrut performed surgery as far back as 6th century BC. Other achievements are well documented. One would be a fool to contest these. My rants were not about Indic medicine. They were and are about the current state of drug discovery in India, which is nothing less than pathetic. In order to prove otherwise, you would need to show me a list of drugs developed within the current Indian modern drug discovery programs, those drugs needs to be the standard of care in their respective therapeutic areas and that list needs to be at least as long as the drugs developed in other nations. Flashing list of ayurvedic drugs in front of us does not help because those drugs are likely a few hundred to a few thousand years old.

    Anyway, since you wish to discuss the traditional knowledge, here is an issue with it:
    In modern medicine, one needs to show superiority in efficacy in double-blinded, randomized, multi-center clinical trials with a significant sample size in both (or more) arms. This is not a conspiracy by the West and is accepted the world over as the standard to determine efficacy of therapies. Till date, this has not been done with most traditional medicine, though this is changing quickly. Both Ayurved and Homeopathy face this challenge and there are several trials underway to determine efficacy. Over the next several years, we will see the results and some very interesting and exciting therapies will come out of these clinical trials.

    You are using the example of Ranbaxy to make a case for all Indian Pharma manufacturers. That is like saying all batsmen ever to hold a bat in India are the caliber of Sachin Tendulkar. Even Ranbaxy has had a run-in with regulatory authorities in some countries due to product quality issues, which they have rectified promptly. But I am not even talking of Ranbaxy. There are many fly-by-night operators in India (as in other countries) that make FAKE medication, which does not have any ingredients that can be called medicine. These people thrive in India probably because of two systemic issues: a) The regulatory body headed by Dr Mashelkar has done a lousy job of identifying these medicines – potentially because the agency is underfunded and undermanned to take up this task of testing products from thousands of manufacturers, and b) these manufactuers have no fear because they know that they will never be brought to book because of the highly inefficient justice system that exists in present India. Back in 2003, there was a policy discussion in India to make manufacturing counterfeit medication a capital offense. Nothing ever came out of that discussion.

    I am not going to revisit the issue of outright disregard by Indian pharma manufacturers for any kind of a patent regimen. However, I have been privy to data that shows that some well known Indian pharma manufacturers do such a shoddy job of copying some of the complex molecules that they do more harm than good to the patients. A lot of the Indian doctors sell these drugs right out of their offices and have a mutually beneficial relationship with these dubious manufacturers.

    Your post shows that 25% of prescription drugs sold in the US had plant origins. Assuming that is true, and even assuming that these come from the TKDL (which your post does not explicitly claim), there is still 75% of modern medicine that is developed in the West. To me, that is still a very high number. If you still feel that I should corerct my position of 99.9%, then I stand corrected. However, the essence of my argument: majority of modern medicine is developed in the West, does not change much. Indian drug development program has a very long way to go before it can become competitive globally. I hope it does get to that level sooner than later.

    One last comment. You seem to think that you need to defend everything Indian. Stop trying to do this. You will help your credibility a lot more if you call a spade a spade. As I said in another post, India is great and I am as proud to be Indian as you are. But give others credit as well, especially when it is due. Not doing so makes you look bigoted and racist. Try to have a balance in your views. There is a difference between pride and jingoism. Be proud and realistic, not jingoistic. Thanks for the debate.

  4. August 8, 2010 at 9:13 am

    A fan of your blog :

    I believe we are discussing two entirely different things here. What you have demonstrated is the historic productivity of Indic medicine system of Ayurved. Sushrut performed surgery as far back as 6th century BC. Other achievements are well documented. One would be a fool to contest these. My rants were not about Indic medicine.

    I am glad that you accept that the Indic system was indeed innovative.

    They were and are about the current state of drug discovery in India, which is nothing less than pathetic. In order to prove otherwise, you would need to show me a list of drugs developed within the current Indian modern drug discovery programs, those drugs needs to be the standard of care in their respective therapeutic areas and that list needs to be at least as long as the drugs developed in other nations.

    Are you saying that Indians need to prove themselves – everyday against everyone. Otherwise, agree to cultural superiority.

    Secondly, you have not responded to the point about State subsidy and support! Indian medicinal systems have languished – and suffered due to support and subsidy given by the Indian State (under the British Raj and by the inheritors of neo-British Raj).

    Thirdly, the more important point is why should India innovate in allopathic medicines at all! Like I said in my previous post, I would like to see how long allopathy will survive without State support and aid!

    Flashing list of ayurvedic drugs in front of us does not help because those drugs are likely a few hundred to a few thousand years old.

    Do we have to reinvent the wheel. If someone has indeed found a cure – and if it remains effective, do we need to keep finding newer medicines?

    Anyway, since you wish to discuss the traditional knowledge, here is an issue with it:

    In modern medicine, one needs to show superiority in efficacy in double-blinded, randomized, multi-center clinical trials with a significant sample size in both (or more) arms.

    Are you saying that traditional medicines, which the Western pharma companies, are pirating from, user results over a few thousands of years are irrelevant.

    Considering the "double-blinded, randomized, multi-center clinical trials with a significant sample size" we should not have the drug recalls! … Right?

    May I remind you of the Thalidomide story!

    This is not a conspiracy by the West and is accepted the world over as the standard to determine efficacy of therapies.

    Are you sure this is not a ‘conspiracy’? Without State support, certification and supervision, how long would these drug companies last?

    Till date, this has not been done with most traditional medicine, though this is changing quickly. Both Ayurved and Homeopathy face this challenge and there are several trials underway to determine efficacy. Over the next several years, we will see the results and some very interesting and exciting therapies will come out of these clinical trials.

    Is it possible for medical systems to last for thousands of years (and good enough for the West to copy), if they did not have a rigourous enough system for testing, evaluation, efficacy, safety, daignosis, prognosis, et al.

    You are using the example of Ranbaxy to make a case for all Indian Pharma manufacturers. That is like saying all batsmen ever to hold a bat in India are the caliber of Sachin Tendulkar.

    Is your protest not misplaced? If you can use a few crooks to tar the entire Indian pharma industry …

    Even Ranbaxy has had a run-in with regulatory authorities in some countries due to product quality issues, which they have rectified promptly.

    So … issue closed!

    But I am not even talking of Ranbaxy. There are many fly-by-night operators in India (as in other countries) that make FAKE medication, which does not have any ingredients that can be called medicine. These people thrive in India probably because of two systemic issues: a) The regulatory body headed by Dr Mashelkar has done a lousy job of identifying these medicines – potentially because the agency is underfunded and undermanned to take up this task of testing products from thousands of manufacturers, and b) these manufactuers have no fear because they know that they will never be brought to book because of the highly inefficient justice system that exists in present India. Back in 2003, there was a policy discussion in India to make manufacturing counterfeit medication a capital offense. Nothing ever came out of that discussion.

    Good. Hopefully, it will kill this expensive, toxic albatross round the Indian necks!

    I am not going to revisit the issue of outright disregard by Indian pharma manufacturers for any kind of a patent regimen.

    There are patent regulations in India – which are different from the West. The West is using colossal legal impediments to evergreen their patents. Indian Government, is hesitantly, saying rubbish!

    You have still not said a word about the ever-greening of patents as piracy and extortion!

    However, I have been privy to data that shows that some well known Indian pharma manufacturers do such a shoddy job of copying some of the complex molecules that they do more harm than good to the patients. A lot of the Indian doctors sell these drugs right out of their offices and have a mutually beneficial relationship with these dubious manufacturers.

    Are you saying that there are no ethical issues and quality issues in the West? You are using crooks to tar an entire industry. Let me show you how the leading lights of the the Western Pharmaceutical world have behaved!

    May I draw your attention to Avandia which “a 43 percent increased risk in heart attacks.” But we wont discuss the ethics of Eli Lilly the maker of Zyprexa where a study showed “30 percent of patients gain 22 pounds or more after a year on the drug, and some patients have reported gaining 100 pounds or more.”  Or Zelnorm from Novartis, where a short study showed, “Of more than 11,000 patients treated with Zelnorm, 13 had serious and life-threatening cardiovascular side effects, according to the FDA. Four patients had a heart attack, and one died. Six had heart chest pain, or angina, that could lead to a heart attack. Three had strokes. Among the 7,000 people taking a placebo, only one had symptoms suggesting the beginning of a stroke; they went away without a problem.”

    May I respectfully utter the word Thalidomide!!

    Your post shows that 25% of prescription drugs sold in the US had plant origins. Assuming that is true, and even assuming that these come from the TKDL (which your post does not explicitly claim), there is still 75% of modern medicine that is developed in the West. To me, that is still a very high number. If you still feel that I should corerct my position of 99.9%, then I stand corrected.

    Thanks

    However, the essence of my argument: majority of modern medicine is developed in the West, does not change much. Indian drug development program has a very long way to go before it can become competitive globally. I hope it does get to that level sooner than later.

    I hope not. This entire system of ‘modern’ allopathic medicine is toxic, polluting, corrupt, creates disease – and survives due to Government subsidy, certification, supervision, mandated monopoly, statutes, legal protection, et al.

    I hope you do not develop any severe ailments. Because if you do, none of the Indic medicines will help. I would challenge you to show one disease or condition where Indic medicine developed better knowledge and/or cure that modern medicine does not.

    I see that you have ignored my comment on how we normalized my nephew suffering from pediatric nephrotic syndrome in nine months without steroids, dialysis, hospitalisation. With zero allopathic medicines. He has been stable for two months now.

    But probably you have been taught that you should ask for “double-blinded, randomized, multi-center clinical trials with a significant sample size”. I have learnt that evidence over a few thousand of years of effectiveness is good enough.

  5. Galeo Rhinus
    August 8, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Please don’t put Homeopathy and Ayurved in the same sentence.

    Homeopathy might have become popular in India – but there is nothing Indian about it.

    Charging thousands of rupees per kilo of a sugar placebo, might be effective, but nothing to do with Indian science.

  6. August 9, 2010 at 7:32 am

    Homeopathy and Ayurveda – Now that is a significantly interesting and different story!

    History

    1. Homeopathic medical preparations follow methodology which is similar to Ayurveda’s prepartion of some bhasmas. Only the medium of dilution changes.

    2. How the bhasma innovation and usage was pioneered in Ayurveda will be interesting to know and find out. Also, to track how Ayurvedic bhasmas travelled to Germany.

    Comparing medical systems

    3. Homeopathy has an extremely small theoretical base – and strangely, a huge, empirical base.

    4. This empirical base matches Ayurvedic base – and modern research on many aspects. For instance, the role of calcium and nitrogen in cardio-vascular disease.

    5. Homeopathy classifies all diseases under psyche, soma, psora. Mind, body and skin. Poisons that can cause similar symptoms if diluted will be medicines that will cure the disease. That is the entire homeopathic theory. Two sentences.

    6. The Ayurvedic system looks at kapha, pitta and vata. Vata is the respiratory system, pitta is the digestive system and the kapha is the lymphatic system.

    7. Ayurveda works on rebalancing the interplay between these three systems. Ayurveda also believes that you are what you eat. So, it has simple remedies around change in diet.

    8. If Ayurveda is engineering, allopathy is blacksmithy.

    9. Heat it and beat it. Take a big hammer, heat the metal and beat the disease into submission.

    10. Not surprising, considering the Western approach to most things. Throw money at any problem. Just start a war. Kill people. Throw people into jail. Beat the disease into submission.

    Of course, there is politics in medicine.

    11. Is it not strange that the Anglo-Saxon Bloc accounts for 65%-80% of innovation in ‘modern’ medicine. Is it surprising that the only challengers to the Anglo-Saxon in medical business comes from Germany and half-Germanic Switzerland.

    12. Just like British killed the Indian paathshaala, they also nearly killed Ayurveda.

    13. The way the Indian Government has ‘supported’ and equated Ayurveda and homeopathy has made a mockery of Indian medical system.

    14. With Indian State support to Ayurveda and its equation with a ‘theory-thin’ homeopathy has harmed Ayurveda the most.

    15. The biggest beneficiary, not surprisingly, has been allopathy.

    16. Withdrawal of State support will kill allopathy.

    17. Ayurveda’s case will be different. I see a huge benefit to Ayurveda by withdrawal of State support to allopathy, Ayurveda and homeopathy.

  7. A fan of your blog
    August 9, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    “Are you saying that Indians need to prove themselves – everyday against everyone. Otherwise, agree to cultural superiority.”

    Cultural superiority? Last time I checked, medicine was about treating human ailments. For a sick person and his physician, the last thing on their mind if choosing a medication based on cultural superiority. You ought to get this us vs. them dichotomy off your mind. It is rooted in a deep persecution complex.

    “Secondly, you have not responded to the point about State subsidy and support! Indian medicinal systems have languished – and suffered due to support and subsidy given by the Indian State (under the British Raj and by the inheritors of neo-British Raj).”

    This may be true but nothing is stopping our Ayurved companies from making their own stake in the ground now, sixty years after British were thrown out of India. IT has done precisely that. Time to scratch this list of your list of excuses.

    “Thirdly, the more important point is why should India innovate in allopathic medicines at all! Like I said in my previous post, I would like to see how long allopathy will survive without State support and aid!”

    You may revel in this dichotomy of Western allopathic medicine versus Indic medicine, but for most clinicians and their patients, an effective medication is an effective medication. So long as it is proved to be effective through scientific rigor, thats good enough to make it the standard of care. Goes back to my argument on clinical trials. Whether Indic medicine or Western medicine, the proof is in the pudding. Most clinicians I know, even though trained in Western medicine are open minded enough to try other forms of medicine, e.g. Chinese or Indian medicine, if they are convinced of its efficacy.

    Do we have to reinvent the wheel. If someone has indeed found a cure – and if it remains effective, do we need to keep finding newer medicines?

    Just meet the scientific rigor and see all people (from East or West) jump on the bandwagon. Despite your tinted glasses, clinicians do not think in terms of new versus old medicine. All they care about is efficacy. There is a well known process to determine standard of care. If you were to follow that process and show efficacy of a regimen, people will gladly accept with open arms. For most clinicians, well being of their patients is paramount. Who makes the drugs or where it was discovered/developed is secondary. See how much business our Indian companies are doing in generic medicine in the US. If US system was bigoted, these companies would not have been able to get this business from the US. Even IT companies would not be doing so many outsourcing projects. At the end of the day, there has to be at least one compelling clinical/business/economic reason to make change in habits. If you or anyone else can achieve that, you are golden.

    “Are you saying that traditional medicines, which the Western pharma companies, are pirating from, user results over a few thousands of years are irrelevant.”

    With traditional medicine, where is the data that accounts for all the different factors and genotypes? Its all anecdotal. For you, it may be enough, but for the scientific community at large, it is not. There is a whole area of scientific rigor that you seem to underestimate. Knowing properties of elements, as an example, is okay in the eighth standard text book. When applying that in a clinical setting, it needs a lot more understanding of different conditions of efficacies in different genotypes, phenotypes and other ways of human anatomy and physiology. That is the clinical scrutiny I am talking about.

    Considering the “double-blinded, randomized, multi-center clinical trials with a significant sample size” we should not have the drug recalls! … Right?

    Despite these trials, they are not full proof. No system is. There may be many side effects that are not seen in the immediate to medium term, which can manifest themselves at a later time. From this perspective, Ayurved is definitely a safer science, because of its sheer longevity.

    May I remind you of the Thalidomide story!

    Sure, for every such story, there are hundreds of success stories as well. Many people live with deadly chronic conditions and still lead a relatively normal life.

    Are you sure this is not a ‘conspiracy’? Without State support, certification and supervision, how long would these drug companies last?

    What is wrong with certification and supervision? It helps weed out good science from bad. Without the FDA, we would not have anyone supervising introduction of new products and ensuring they meet certain performance standards. Sure the process if bureaucratic and cumbersome, but it brings a certain level of required discipline. Since when did good logic and scientific rigor become conspiracy?

    Is it possible for medical systems to last for thousands of years (and good enough for the West to copy), if they did not have a rigourous enough system for testing, evaluation, efficacy, safety, daignosis, prognosis, et al.

    I am all ears. Now, show me the data.

    Is your protest not misplaced? If you can use a few crooks to tar the entire Indian pharma industry …

    There are two issues at work here. One is copying formulas. The other is fake drugs. Copying formulas after a certain period of time (which can be debated) is a lesser offense in my mind, but an offense nevertheless. Fake drugs: How can anyone in their right mind find pardonable? Most pharma players are guilty of the first crime. There is no secret there. The second one may seem like a small issue to you, but its actually quite big. 25% of all drugs sold in India are fake. Now, rather than thinking of this as an East vs. West issue, spare a thought for the patients who get these drugs. How would you feel if someone close to you got a fake drug and died? Would you still defend this?

    So … issue closed!

    So, your poster child of Indian pharma had some quality issues too. This is just an example of quality issues and standards. Saying issue closed is brushing this issue under the carpet. If the well capitalized Ranbaxy can have such problems too, think of the smaller, less capitalized players. I hope you get the picture.

    Good. Hopefully, it will kill this expensive, toxic albatross round the Indian necks!

    When you say something like that, spare a thought for the Indian patients who are worse off and sometimes dead because of these fly by night operators. In trying to defend India as a whole, and Indian pharma, which require no defense from you per se, you are condoning purely criminal activities. This us vs. them mentality is dangerous, to say the least.

    There are patent regulations in India – which are different from the West. The West is using colossal legal impediments to evergreen their patents. Indian Government, is hesitantly, saying rubbish!

    Not all patent regimens are based on ever greening. Some are legitimate and have merit. Indian Government is rating political expediency over ethical behavior. They are circumventing our own patent rules to be seen as pro people. These Indian pharma companies are not the benevolent lot you like to think. They are making hefty profits and getting richer, yet they refuse to accept patents and pay royalties. There was a change in how patents were protected some 3-4 years ago, but even those changes are implemented on a case by case basis and applied where the Government sees fit.

    I say ever greening of patents is rubbish and I denounce them. Please take the time to denounce fake medications as well as copying of legitimate patents without paying royalties.

    Are you saying that there are no ethical issues and quality issues in the West? You are using crooks to tar an entire industry. Let me show you how the leading lights of the the Western Pharmaceutical world have behaved!

    There are crooks everywhere: India or the West. There is a difference though. In the US at least, there are deterrents to this kind of criminal behavior: a) Vigilance by regulatory authorities and b) Fast dispensing of justice which leads to huge fines and even prison sentences for people involved. This has helped contain some of these problems. As I pointed out earlier, our justice system is in shambles and even terrorists trials take a long time to close and terrorists being brought to book. Just look at Afzal Guru. The Bhopal case continues to drag for 30 years. This emboldens the criminals because they not fear repercussions. Add to that the under funded and understaffed regulatory bodies (led by Dr Mashelkar) and anyone can open fake medication factories in their garage and the chances of facing any repercussions are further diminished. It is the same reason why drivers stop at the stop light at 2am in the morning in the US: vigilance and fast dispensing of justice. Even though the propensity of people circumventing laws may be more or less the same across the world, these two factors play a big role in their behavior.

    May I draw your attention to Avandia which “a 43 percent increased risk in heart attacks.” But we wont discuss the ethics of Eli Lilly the maker of Zyprexa where a study showed “30 percent of patients gain 22 pounds or more after a year on the drug, and some patients have reported gaining 100 pounds or more.” Or Zelnorm from Novartis, where a short study showed, “Of more than 11,000 patients treated with Zelnorm, 13 had serious and life-threatening cardiovascular side effects, according to the FDA. Four patients had a heart attack, and one died. Six had heart chest pain, or angina, that could lead to a heart attack. Three had strokes. Among the 7,000 people taking a placebo, only one had symptoms suggesting the beginning of a stroke; they went away without a problem.”
    May I respectfully utter the word Thalidomide!!

    I did not claim that there are no issues with drug discovery processes. These are real and legitimate issues.

    I hope not. This entire system of ‘modern’ allopathic medicine is toxic, polluting, corrupt, creates disease – and survives due to Government subsidy, certification, supervision, mandated monopoly, statutes, legal protection, et al.

    If there is a better way to do drug development, then I hope India leads the way and shows the world how it is done. We can all be ever grateful for showing us the light.

    I see that you have ignored my comment on how we normalized my nephew suffering from pediatric nephrotic syndrome in nine months without steroids, dialysis, hospitalisation. With zero allopathic medicines. He has been stable for two months now.
    But probably you have been taught that you should ask for “double-blinded, randomized, multi-center clinical trials with a significant sample size”. I have learnt that evidence over a few thousand of years of effectiveness is good enough.

    One swallow does not make a summer. I am happy for your nephew. For most clinicians to adopt this methodology, we will need to see a lot more data. This is not conspiracy against Mr Sanghi and his family. It is just good clinical practice.

  8. Galeo Rhinus
    August 10, 2010 at 5:40 am

    http://books.google.com/books?id=C4lHAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA367#v=onepage&q&f=false

    This describes in detail the process of inoculating against the small-pox virus in 1767. Inoculation used the small-pox virus itself (vaccination uses the cowpox virus). Now interestingly, inoculation was officially “invented” in 1796. The vaidya’s who were doing the inoculation spoke of “multitudes of imperceptible animalculae floating in the atmosphere” T being the cause of the disease. Interestingly germ theory wasn’t even “invented” until 1822.

  9. August 10, 2010 at 10:21 am

    AFOYB /GR – Thanks for this exchange! This is an exquisite stalemate! In sharp, eight comments. The way positions have been entire squared off can be very helpful to any reader who wants to take a Quicktake-2ndlook at this debate!

    I have very little to add apart from what I have said! Of course, readers, critics, believers, skeptics may add to this discussion to bolster the respective position. At 2ndlook, comments are never closed!

    The data, shortcomings, contradictions, supports, logic, arguments have been well marshalled.

  10. February 9, 2012 at 10:02 pm

    Galeo Rhinus :

    http://books.google.com/books?id=C4lHAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA367#v=onepage&q&f=false
    This describes in detail the process of inoculating against the small-pox virus in 1767. Inoculation used the small-pox virus itself (vaccination uses the cowpox virus). Now interestingly, inoculation was officially “invented” in 1796. The vaidya’s who were doing the inoculation spoke of “multitudes of imperceptible animalculae floating in the atmosphere” T being the cause of the disease. Interestingly germ theory wasn’t even “invented” until 1822.

    I asked my immunology professor about this. This is hardly an issue. That time, if something worked, it was used. Discovery of why it worked was done later. Difference between China and Turkey ‘s small pox vaccine and England was that England used cow small pox.

  11. samadhyayi
    April 4, 2012 at 11:45 am

    samadhyayi – Your private message cannot be answered because the email that you have provided bounces back as invalid. Kindly give your valid and correct email ID. Anuraag

  12. dsylexic
    May 20, 2012 at 9:54 am

    copyrights are patents are criminal ideas based on hobbesian statism. alas,we in india have fallen for it too.neither are patents necessary to spur innovation nor is it a morally tenable idea. copying ideas is no theft at all.

  13. desicontrarian
    May 21, 2012 at 9:36 am

    I have been avoiding Allopathy for the last 20 years, and am better off from it. The alternative that works for me is Naturopathy. Its all a matter of food habits and daily routines.

    There is an excellent book on Naturopathy by Sri Lakshman Sharma – “Practical Nature Cure”. It criticizes Allopathy mercilessly, and lays a strong theoretical foundation for naturopathy. In fact, the author has an antipathy 😉 to the “-pathy” ending, and prefers to call it Nature Cure.

    I’ve had “encounters” with many forms of “alternative” healing, and many of them have turned out to be either half-baked or pure charlatans, one of them charging Rs. 5000 for one “miracle” cure lasting 5 minutes of pressure on the spinal chord. People have tried prANic healing, Reiki, Magnets, Pyramids, Acupuncture (on me), colours, aromas (on others). They all turned out to be half-baked or quacks.

    On the whole, patent-free Mother Nature is the best, she never cheats.

  14. August 5, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    reply to @fanofyourblog

    /** This may be true but nothing is stopping our Ayurved companies from making their own stake in the ground now, sixty years after British were thrown out of India. IT has done precisely that. Time to scratch this list of your list of excuses.
    **/

    Did this person ever understands what it means by state support? The Britishers has left 60 years back.. but arent their colonial machinery still serving their purposes? and their institutional persecutions against traditional indian medicine..

    How many of the traditional medical ayurvedic practictioners were persecuted just because they did not get a government certificate? Do this guy ever knows it?

    And does this guy ever understands how western allopathic pharmaceuticals had been systematically controlling government policy decisions through their money power? (This guy will ask, why cant ayurvedic companies lobby the same..)

    How can any industry develop without government’s support? How can a ayurvedic pharma company develop, when there is no institutional support, no research facility, no government support, and atlast no infrastructural support?

    Its really ridiculous to see such arguments from indian liberals..

  15. August 5, 2012 at 4:43 pm
    I disagree Senthil.

    I am confident that Ayurveda will do very well – without State support.

    But, there must be level playing field. The Government cannot fund

    allopathic colleges
    allopathic hospitals
    free allopathic medicines
    allopathic research

    and ask Ayurveda to compete in the market without support.

    I am sure allopathy will die in a few years without State support.

  16. April 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm

  17. April 3, 2013 at 4:32 pm

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