As the nation is struggling to tackle the devastating second wave of the Coronavirus which has overwhelmed the health infrastructure, the Ministry of AYUSH has come up with a polyherbal drug called Ayush-64 which can help treat the patients having asymptomatic, and mild & moderate COVID-19 infection.
To be used an adjunct to standard care, Ayush-64 is an Ayurvedic formulation developed by the Central Council for Research in Ayurvedic Sciences (CCRAS), Ministry of AYUSH. The drug was originally developed back in 1980 for treating Malaria, but is now repurposed for COVID-19 treatment.
The Ayurvedic drug is extensively studied, scientifically developed, and safe for consumption, and it is made from Alstonia scholaris (aqueous bark extract), Picrorhiza kurroa (aqueous rhizome extract), Swertia chirata (aqueous extract of whole plant), and Caesalpinia crista (fine-powdered seed pulp). It is also recommended in National Clinical Management Protocol based on Ayurveda and Yoga which is vetted by National Task Force on COVID-19 Management of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
Developed in compliance to all regulatory requirements as well as quality and pharmacopoeial standards, Ayush-64 has notable antiviral, immune-modulator and antipyretic properties. Moreover, it also has beneficial effects of on general health, fatigue, anxiety, stress, appetite, general happiness, and sleep pattern.
CCRAS, Ministry of AYUSH in collaboration with Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Ministry of of Science & Technology has recently completed a robust multi-centre clinical trials to evaluate the safety and efficacy of Ayush-64 in the management of mild to moderate COVID-19 patients.
Dr Arvind Chopra, Director of Centre for Rheumatic Diseases, Pune, and honorary Chief Clinical Coordinator of the collab between CCRAS and CSIR has informed that Ayush-64’s trial had been conducted at three centres. These centres namely KGMU, Lucknow, DMIMS, Wardha, and BMC COVID Centre, Mumbai tested 70 participants in each arm.
Dr Chopra has also said that Ayush-64 is as an add-on treatment to the standard of care (SoC). This has shown significant improvement in treatment, and thus results in a lesser period of hospitalisation as compared SoC alone. The patients using Ayush-64 will still require monitoring so as to identify any worsening of disease requiring more intensive therapy with oxygen and other treatment measures provided during hospitalisation, he also added.
The Ministry has taken steps to streamline the distribution of Ayush-64 across the country. The Ministry will also 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 National Research and Development Centre (NDRC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the larger production and commercialization of Ayush-64 with mutual co-operation.
On 27 April 2021, The AYUSH Ministry has also issued an 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.
Emphasising the need to ensure the availability of the polyherbal drug 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 the drug.
Furthermore, 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 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.