There is a shortage of Ayush (ayurveda, yoga and naturopathy, unani, siddha and homoeopathy) drug inspectors in the country, with the government data showing only 29 posts have been filled as against the need for 105 across the country.
There is a separate regulatory staff for ayurveda, siddha, unani and homoeopathy (ASU&H) drugs within the Ayush ministry. According to rule 162-A of the Drugs and Cosmetics Rules, 1945, one inspector is required for 30 manufacturing units.
Of the 12 states that have Ayush drug manufacturing units, four do not have a single drug inspector, shows Ayush ministry data. There are a total of 3,050 Ayush drugs manufacturing units in the country.
In a state like such as Bihar, there is not a single drug inspector for its 286 drug manufacturing units. Kerala and Telangana need at least 17 additional inspectors for their 753 and 632 manufacturing units, respectively.
Almost all states with Ayush drug manufacturing units are lacking the adequate number of drug inspectors, highlighting the need for making improvements in quality control measures.
Vaidya Rajesh Kotecha, secretary of Ayush ministry, said that the central government is in the process of plugging the gaps. “Apart from urging states to fill the vacancies, we are supporting them by establishing at least one central drug testing laboratory in each state to take care of regulatory functions,” said Kotecha, adding a separate Ayush vertical has been created within Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, besides a “pharmacovigilance network for monitoring”.
The central government has also asked the states to train district-level Ayush officers who can be authorised to work as drug inspectors to meet the shortage.
“These people already know the job and with some training, they can fill in the gap. It can save states the trouble of looking for already trained experts that may be hard to find. We don’t intend to create an ‘inspector raj’ but turn it into a transparent and efficient system,” said Kotecha.