Aug 3, 2012

AMAM objects to inclusion of neem in ASEAN list of Negative Ingredients for TMHS

Nandita Vijay, Bengaluru
Thursday, August 02, 2012, 08:00 Hrs  [IST]
The Association of Manufacturers of Ayurveda Medicines (AMAM) has vehemently criticized the inclusion of ‘Azadirachta indica’ or neem/nimba in the ASEAN list of Negative Ingredients for Traditional Medicine and Health Supplement (TMHS) by the ‘Product Working Group’ (PWG), an expert committee group under TMHS.

The Association has sought the intervention of the department of Ayush, union ministry of health, on the efforts at the Singapore meeting held recently where PWG is in the process to finalize under Point 23, of the ASEAN Negative list of Ingredients for TMHS to include ‘Azadirachta indica’ or neem.

“This is not a positive step taken by the ASEAN countries to include neem under negative list of plants and the restriction of trade further of the products containing neem, said Pradeep Multani, general secretary, AMAM.

“This decision impacts the Indian export business prospects to shrink in these countries. This decision may also further have a snowball effect in other parts of the world. This also may just be the beginning of many herbs used in ASU systems, which may be unjustifiably targeted by the importing countries by listing them under the negative list of plants,” he added.

Medicinal properties of neem have been known to Indians since time immemorial. This versatile tree holds the history of being used for more than 4500 years. The earliest Sanskrit medical writings refer to the benefits of neem’s fruits, seeds, oil, leaves, roots and bark. Each of these has been used in the Ayurvedic including Charaka Samhita and the Susruta Samhita Siddha and Unani systems of medicine, he said.

Modern scientific research also confirms neem’s curative benefits in many diseases and provides indications that neem might in future be used much more widely.

There is substantial experimental evidence and clinical data supporting the efficacy of neem.

Against this background, it is very unfortunate that herbs under Ayurveda like neem are considered under negative list of plants in the ASEAN countries. By targeting neem, without credible evidence, the report sends a wrong message to the entire globe involved in trading and developing products based on this traditional science, said Multani.

According to Pharmexcil, neem has been listed under top 25 commodities (Herbal and Ayush) of Indian export, having generated Rs.22.98 crore in 2009-10 which is double the earnings of 2008-09 estimated at Rs.10.19 crore.

Restriction of neem and neem products will have devastating effect on the trade of ASU herbs and drugs, he noted.

When a herb like neem, widely used in India, is targeted without substantial evidence, it raises several questions. The PWG has not had a fair representation of qualified professional and the outcome of the proceeding indicates that observation on neem was not based on sound scientific evidence.

Now AMAM is pressing the department of Ayush to discuss the issue with the official members of the ASEAN PWG and ensure redressing the grievance, said Multani. 


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