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  Section: Medicinal Plants / Medicinal Plants: Present and Future
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Market Scenario of Medicinal Plants

⇒ Market Scenario of Medicinal Plants
  ⇒ Domestic Market
  ⇒ Global Market
  ⇒ Export
  ⇒ Standards and Quality Control
  ⇒ Constraints
⇒ New Hopes for Herbal Market
⇒ Challenges Ahead
⇒ Future Strategy for Medicinal Plants
  ⇒ Development of Medicinal Plant Sector
  ⇒ Products Standardization
  ⇒ Globalization of Ayurveda and Medicinal Plant Sector

Domestic Market
According to R. B. S. Rawat and R. C. Uniyal, National Medicinal Plants Board Department of ISM&H {Agrobios News Letter, Vol. 1, No. 8, January 2003) medicinal plants market in the country is today unorganized due to several problems. Medicinal plants are a living resource, exhaustible if overused and sustainable if used with care and wisdom. Current practices of harvesting are unsustainable and many studies have highlighted depletion of resource base. Many studies have confirmed that pharmaceutical companies are also responsible for inefficient, imperfect, informal and opportunistic marketing of medicinal plants. There is a vast, secretive and largely unregulated trade in medicinal plants, mainly from the wild, which continues to grow dramatically in the absence of serious policy attention materials where the origin of a particular drug is assigned to more than one plant, due to which; adulteration is common in such cases. All these affect the market both directly and indirectly.
They further indicated that marketing is daunting problem, which bests the development of the plant-based industry in developing countries. Marketability of products will be a crucial factor in determining the failure or success of this sector. The market outlets can be for local use and for export. As for local use some products could reach the consumer directly while others have to be either further processed or used as secondary components in other industrial products. A clear understanding of both the supply-side issues and the factors driving the demand and size of the medicinal plants market is a vital step towards planning for both the conservation and sustainable use of the habitats of these plants as well as for ensuring continued availability of the basic ingredients used to address the health needs of the majority of the world's population.

Global Market
According to the report of the World Health Organisation (WHO), a large population of the world relies on the traditional systems of medicines, largely plant based to meet their primary health care needs. The EXIM bank of India, in its report has reported the value of medicinal plants related trade in the India of the order of 5.5 billion US dollar and is growing rapidly. Accordingly to WHO, the international market of herbal products is estimated to be US $ 62 billion which is poised to grow to US $ 5 trillion by the year 2050. India's share in the global export market of medicinal plants related trade in less than 0.5%. The Chinese export based on plants including raw drugs, therapeutics and other is estimated to be around Rs. 18,000 - Rs. 22,000 crores. In view of the innate Indian strengths which interalia include diverse eco-systems, technical and farming capacity and a strong manufacturing sector, the medicinal plants area can become a huge export opportunity after fulfilling domestic needs.

A part from requirement of medicinal plants for internal consumptions, India exports crude drugs mainly to developed countries, viz. USA, Germany, France, Switzerland, UK and Japan, who share between them 75 to 80 percent of the total export of crude drugs from India. The principal herbal drugs that have been finding a good market in foreign countries are Aconite, Aloe, Belladonna, Acorns, Cinchona, Cassia tora, Dioscorea, Digitalis, Ephedra, Plantago (Isabgol), Cassia (Senna) etc. The total value of export of crude drugs, Ayurvedic not put-up for retail and Ayurvedic put-up for retail have increased from Rs. 394 Crores in 1996-97 to Rs. 446 Crores in 1998-99.

Standards and Quality Control
In India, the single most important factor which is standing in the way of wider acceptance of drugs based on medicinal plants is non-availability or inadequacy of standards to check or test the quality by modern instrumentation methods. A serious thought needs to be given to this aspect.

Government of India has set up pharmacopoeial committees for Ayurveda, Siddha, Unani and Homoeopathy systems. The Pharmacopoeial Laboratory for Indian Medicines (PLIM) and the Homoeopathy Pharmacopoeial Laboratory (HPL) at Ghaziabad are providing the technical back up these committees.

The Ayurvedic Formulary of India (Part I and II), published by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, contains 634 formulations involving 500 medicinal plants. Of these, standards for 80 single plant drugs have been include in the first part of Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India, 78 plant in second part and 100 plants are included in third part of Ayurvedic Pharmacopoeia of India. One hundred and thirty seven plants have been allocated to 24 research / academic institutions for preparing monographs on their standardization. The Central Council for Unani Medicines has published two volumes on single plant drug standardization covering 100 medicinal plants. The Unani pharmacopoeia committee has published one national formulary of 441 formulations of Unani medicines. Now 45 monographs on single Unani drugs have been published. The Siddha pharmacopoeia committee has brought out seven volumes containing standards of 910 drugs.

Under the sponsorship of the Indian Drugs Manufacturers Association (IDMA), Regional Research Laboratory (CSIR) Jammu has developed standards for 38 herbal drugs (in two volumes).

The next stage is the quality control during processing and manufacturing. The Government of India in the Department of ISM&H has notified elaborate Good Manufacturing Practices only recently. This is a very important step, which will ensure quality during the manufacturing process.

  1. Depletion of the resource-base, which is the foundation of entire sector.
  2. Decline of folk traditional medicines, a source of primary health care for an estimated 800 million people in the country.
  3. Impoverishment of rural people, who are stewards of the resource base and the holders of traditional ecological and medical knowledge, through inequitable marketing channels.
  4. Medicinal plants trade is inefficient, imperfect, informal and opportunistic.
  5. Crude drug supply situation is shaky, unsustainable, and exploitative and adulteration taking place.                                                     
  6. Deficient toxicology studies and standard preparations to improve the quality, efficacy and effectiveness of the traditional drugs.
  7. Unsustainable wild harvesting.
  8. Lack of coordination amongst various stakeholders such as Govt. of India (Ministry of Agriculture,   Environment   &   Forests,   ISM&H,   Science   and   Technology   etc.)   State Governments, Private traditional medicine sector, research institutes, NGOs, International Networks etc.

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