The COVID-19 pandemic, especially the surge in cases over the past few weeks, hasbeen described as the biggest public health challenge faced by the country in a century. During this period, the potential of Ayush systems of healthcare in addressing the physical and emotional health issues has been tapped into by individuals and medical practitioners alike on a large scale, and many remarkable outcomes have been reported.
Repurposing of AYUSH- 64, the polyherbal Ayurvedic medicine, for treating of COVID-19 has been one of the most significant developments in this area. AYUSH- 64 was originally developed in 1980 for the treatment of malaria, and it complies with all regulatory requirements and quality and pharmacopoeial standards. CCRAS recently concluded extensive robust clinical trials of the drug focusing on the management of asymptomatic, mild to moderate COVID-19 in collaboration with the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and many other research organizations and medical colleges across the country. The trials led by reputed scientists of the country showed AYUSH 64 has notable antiviral, immune-modulator and antipyretic properties. It is found to be useful in the treatment of asymptomatic, mild and moderate COVID-19 infection. Consequently, the drug is now repurposed for COVID-19. This was announced by the Ministry in a press conference on 29th April 2021.
The Ministry has since taken steps to streamline the distribution of AYUSH 64 across the country and ramp up its production so that it becomes available to a large number of people in a short time. As part of this effort, CCRAS and the National Research and Development Centre (NDRC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the larger production and commercialization of AYUSH 64 with mutual cooperation. TheAyush Ministry on 27 April 2021 has also issued advisory to all State Licensing Authorities of ASU medicines to repurpose AYUSH-64 as an intervention for the management of mild to moderate COVID-19 in addition to existing indications.
Emphasizing the need for ensuring the availability of AYUSH 64 across the country, the Ministry has encouraged more pharmaceutical companies to come forward and obtain a manufacturing licence for this medicine. Interested companies for the transfer of technology can approach CCRAS and the NRDC. The CCRAS will provide technical support to the ASU drugs manufacturers in the manufacturing of AYUSH-64. Further, the State Licensing Authorities are expediting the process of the licensing/approval of such applications, provided the prescribed standards and relevant provisions of the Drugs & Cosmetics Rules, 1945, are fulfilled.
The State and UT administrations are also expected to contribute further to this mobilisation through the vehicle of the National Ayush Mission, under which a country-wide Ayush network is already in place. The State Health Authorities will be promoting the use of AYUSH-64 as per National Clinical Management Protocol based on Ayurveda and Yoga interventions.