Harmony, consistency and unison amongst medical practices in India: Is the gap bridging or widening?

Dr Ashok Omray, Advisor, Pharma Industry and Academic Institutions says that we need to bridge the gaps and claims from different systems of medical practices with scientific evidence and collaborate for the welfare of mankind

Nobody is likely to have a difference of opinion that the medical system and the processes have evolved as a result of knowledge, necessity and the prevailing medicines and antidotes available in different regions. This is true for the whole world whether it is America, Japan, China, Europe, India, the Amazon or wilds of Africa. The diseases and abnormalities with the human body (animals as well) are not new.

The chemical drugs, if we consider natural salts, acids and alkalis, are not too old either. Their utility and justification to be used took a long time. The pharmacopoeias across the world, be it from the US or Britain and even India are hardly 200 years old (first USP was published in 1820) and Indian Pharmacopeia in 1955. Most of the monographs were about tinctures, aromatic waters, extracts, syrups derived from natural products and few chemical salts and drugs chemically identified and synthesised. Same stands true for others’ compendium as well.

Aspirin, the most notable chemically modified drug, came into being in 1897 and the penicillin was also a chance event in Alexander Fleming’s lab in 1928. Its commercial success was achieved by collaborative efforts of the US and the Great Britain in 1943. This product was also not chemically synthesised, rather it was manufactured at a mass level by fermentation. The most sought after analgesic, morphine comes from opium or the poppy plant.

My point is why there is a clash and antagonism in recent times. In India, the drug industry flourished from drug substances and drug products of vegetable/herbal origin and one can see the billion-dollars companies growing phenomenally with such products. The scientific and clinical evaluation must not be side-lined or ignored. Chemical-based drugs can also be equally dangerous and therefore they are declared safe only after decades of evaluation, no chemical substance is declared a drug overnight.

My apprehension is: Why are we not able to bridge the gaps and claims from different systems of medical practices and assure people to use current practices of medicines with confidence as well as best and prompt results.

Our people are never affected by the hospital charges or doctors’ fees but they experience a volcanic impact by the fuel prices and drug prices. This is an unending discussion and the problem is further fuelled by generic and branded generics propaganda. Public advertisements for discounts on drug prices ranging from 20 to 90 per cent instil more and more suspicion in the minds of people about profiteering and its magnitude by the drugs manufacturers. I don’t know who to thank for free medical education to all (literate and illiterate with live examples like a street juggler) and treatment for the most dreadful diseases and their prevention, that’s being imparted every morning on national TV. The government must reconsider their plans, expenditures and investment policy for national health in view of brutal condemnation (sponsored and endorsed) of the modern-day medical practices, practitioners, profession, medicines and research. There is greater emphasis to revive the traditional medicine system with scientific rationale and clinical evidence.

To bring down the cost of treatment, we are all out to fight for the allopathic drug prices, I think it may be possible, otherwise how the 10 to 90 per cent discount is offered. Do we ever consider to put a limit on the professional fees and charges by attending doctors and hospitals? It will be desirable to have a look at the prices and the cost of the drugs in the Ayurvedic category too, most of the drugs are taken in multiple units every day for months together.

The purpose of this article is not to compare or show superiority of one over the other. It is meant to educate ourselves and collaborate for the welfare and good health of mankind. Utilise the resources and facilities for the maximum benefit and develop a sense of responsibility and accountability. Let science prevail, irrespective of the medical system practised. Stop condemning the modern medical practices instead develop confidence of the patients in the treatment and medicines.

Over and above, leave the profession of healthcare to professionals and let politics and governments talk about infrastructure, budgets and social welfare. Stop irrational advertising (including OTC drugs that leads to abuse, overdosing, habituation and loss of efficacy). If the professionals are not awakened then they are going to lose their integrity and relevance.

Indian Pharmacopeiamedical educationmodern medical practicesOTC drugs
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