“Procurement of authentic and genuine raw material is becoming a problem”

Established in 1935, Ayurveda Rasashala, based in Pune, is one of the oldest pharmacies manufacturing ayurvedic medicines. Shalini Gupta finds out more in an interaction with Dr Vijay Doiphode, Managing Trustee, Ayurveda Rasashala

How many drugs did Rasashala start with? How many drugs do you have now? What are your annual sales for last year? By how much have they increased since inception and what is the year-on-year increase? Tell us about your distributor network and by how has it increased since inception?

Dr Vijay Doiphode

Ayurveda Rasashala started with ayurveda’s generic products described in our ancient text books withthe noble principle to provide quality medicines at affordable rate to ayurvedic hospitals. Especially, to hospitals affiliated to Ayurveda Rasashala like Sheth Tarachand Ramnath Charitable Trust Hospital and Nanal Rugnalaya. With the passage of time, the knowledge and experience passed on to us by our ancestors, gave way to various proprietary medicines. The number of products which was below 50 grew speedily and crossed the 150-mark. Now, Ayurveda Rasashala manufactures around 160 different types of medicines like Guti-Vati (tablets), Asawa-Arishta, Awaleha, churna, syrup and Siddha Tail. We have sold medicines worth around Rs 12,00,00,000, keeping in tune with a steady increase of around 12 to 15 per cent every year.

Ayurveda Rasashala has a strong distribution system to keep the consumers happy. In earlier days, Ayurveda Rasashala had depots, shops dedicated to sell its products. As the market trend changed, to cope with the requirement of consumers, Ayurveda Rasashala had to supply medicines to other distributors and retailers. This was the moment Ayurveda Rasashala changed its marketing strategy and appointed super-stockists with the help of our strong marketing team. Initially, our sale was limited to some parts of Maharashtra only. After our marketing team’s hard work, now medicines are available throughout the state as well as across Goa, Karnataka, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

What are the challenges in operating the company?

Procurement of authentic and genuine raw material is becoming a problem. Once easily available, raw materials are becoming scarce because of the forest department laws. We agree that it is not proper to erode the natural grown forests for raw materials, but to procure the cultivated material, requires government approvals. Also, some of the the laws like Bio Diversity Act and the taxes levied by Government are making manufacturing a cumbersome process, with minimum yield and maximum expenditure.

What have been some of the achievements of the Rasashala?

Ayurveda Rasashala is one of the oldest pharma companies. We feel proud when the FDA department recommends us to other companies for authenticity and efficacy of the medicines, specially Bhasma and Aasawa-Arishta, as we are among the very few who are still following the traditional methods for their preparation. We have managed to form a perfect blend of traditional and modern methods as well as machinery. This blend reflects when our traditionally prepared Asawa-Arishta are filled for sale on the ultra-modern fully-automatic liquid filling line.

The government is to set up a regulatory regime for AYUSH. What are your expectations for the ayurvedic industry? What kind of regulations would be enabling?

Ayurveda Rasashala expects that this regulatory regime will help upgradation of educational standards, quality control and standardisation of drugs, improving the availability of medicinal plant material, research and development and awareness generation about the efficacy of the system. AYUSH department will be helpful for the ayurvedic industry if  regulations from certain raw materials like minerals, poisonous substances will be exempted and allowed to be used with proper precautions like Shuddhi Prakriya.  The department should collaborate with other government institutes like NMPB, Forest Ministry etc., so that it can be helpful for the buyers and sellers of ayurvedic raw materials and provide standardisation and quality assurance.  AYUSH department should pursue the demand to treat the ayurveda pharma industry with different parameters than other pharma segments.

How important is the marketing of ayurvedic drugs? What is the size of the team at Rasashala? Which drugs rank high on sales and what therapeutic areas do they address?

Ayurveda’s generic products do not need marketing. But the ayurvedic proprietary products do require marketing. Ayurveda Rasashala has a well talented and well informed team of four area sales managers and 22 sales representatives to promote its proprietary products. Samples and informative literature about products is distributed through sales officers. Our sales officers personally convince the doctors about the authenticity of the medicines and provide detailed information about the raw material used and the methods followed to manufacture the medicines. The same method is followed to convince the retailers, who in turn, convince the end users while selling the OTC products. Varunadi Quath, Prasham, Shatavari Kalpa are the top selling products of Ayurveda Rasashala.