Ayurveda has seen a roller coaster ride in the Indian industry. Once the mainstay of the Indian medical knowledge and science, it later became an ‘alternative’ system of medicine, practiced and followed usually by devout followers. It may have developed here, but as the spread of allopathic medicines took over, it became a distinct second. But Ayurvedic pharma companies in India are slowly but surely, making a comeback.
A second coming
Luckily, Ayurveda has made a comeback of sorts. To be honest, it was never quite gone from the medical field. In many rural areas, Ayurveda accounted for almost 80% of the medical consolations and treatment. However, this was a largely un-organised and informal sector. In many cases Ayurvedic physicians worked on their own, even making their own medicines.
In urban areas Ayurveda has always had its own dedicated followers. These were usually small clinics or lone physicians. Most of time the clinics made their own Ayurvedic formulations. The medicines used were rarely the same when compared from two different clinics. In other words, Ayurveda was almost similar to a small-scale medical practise with a cottage industry to support it.
This made it ill equipped to handle the invasion of allopathic medicine and the even bigger presence of powerful multi-national pharmaceutical companies. As a result, Ayurvedic medicine and the industry was relegated to the fringes, largely confined to people who believed in it. However, this following remained strong, especially in rural areas.
Ayurveda in post-Liberalisation era
In the past two decades, this scenario has changed again. Liberalisation gave a new lease of life to the Indian pharmaceutical industry and the Ayurvedic pharma companies were not far behind. Although, it was feared that competition with big companies will harm Indian pharma sector, the reality has proven otherwise. The Indian pharma sector today leads the world trade in generic drugs and the Ayurvedic industry is also on an upward climb.
So, how did liberalisation change the Ayurvedic pharma companies in India?
- It brought in increased funds.
- Technical expertise in setting up manufacturing units.
- Exposure to international marketing tactics and scenarios
- It provided an opportunity for Indian Ayurvedic companies to explore new markets.
- Enabled them to seek partnership with international firms that could provide them with much needed financial, operational and marketing support.
- Underscored the necessity of compliance with international standards.
- Developed a competitive instinct among Indian industries with special attention paid to every small factor, such as packaging.
As a result, today Ayurveda has become a more mainstream medical system with a number of hospitals and recognised physicians. There are also many big corporations in the field today and they have made their mark both in the domestic market and internationally.
Enter the FMCG Sector
One of the major developments of Ayurveda in India occurred with the entry of a number of big FMCG companies in the field. While some of these have always had a small production of Ayurvedic products, increased demand has seen an expansion in more than one product. These range from medical products like cough syrups to cosmetic products.
The entry of FMCG sector has been a game changer for Ayurvedic pharma companies in India. Big corporations brought in big money, big marketing campaigns and an overall improvement in manufacturing, production, distribution and packing. The Ayurvedic pharma industry was finally poised to become a major player.
The worldwide herbal industry (in which Ayurveda is counted) in 2015 was valued at USD 80 bn. By 2050 the market is expected to reach USD 6 trillion! The Indian pharma companies are now uniquely poised to take advantage of this. As one of the leading sectors in the field, interest in Indian exports is naturally high.
In 2015 the Indian Ayurvedamarket was at an approximate Rs 4205 crores. The export of Ayurvedic and herbal products isestimated at as Rs. 440 crores. Experts predict that this number will be at an impressive Rs. 7000 crore by 2020.
The Ayurvedic pharma companies in India are clearly poised to take off. But there are certain challenges that the sector must overcome, such as the establishment of a more recognized validation, tighter control on sourcing of raw material and a wider infrastructure.