The study published on March 16 in the ‘PLOS One’ journal said the drug, in combination with the standard of care, hastened recovery, reduced hospitalisation, and improved health among Covid-19 cases.
Poly-herbal Ayurvedic drug Ayush-64 – repurposed for use during the pandemic – has been found to be efficacious,well-tolerated, and safe, according to a new study. The study, which has been peer-reviewed, was published in the PloS One journal on March 16. It underlines that the drug reduced hospitalisation, and improved health
Pune-based Dr. Arvind Chopra, the national clinical coordinator of the Central Council of Research in Ayurvedic Sciences-Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CCRAS-CSIR) project for Covid drug trials, said that the trial was “unprecedented in several ways, especially in the domain of alternative medicinal systems”.
“The drug trial was conceptualised, approved as an emergency measure, and completed during the first wave of the pandemic (May-November 2020) when there was limited knowledge of the virus and its management in modern medicine
In March 2020, the Ministry of Ayush launched an interdisciplinary task force, under Professor Bhushan Patwardhan, to meet the therapeutic challenges using Ayurveda and other AYUSH medicinal streams.
Dr Chopra stated the drug trial protocol which was vetted and approved by peers and mentors from premier national institutions like ICMR, and the CSIR. He organised and supervised the multi-center drug trial in Ayush hospitals in Lucknow, Mumbai, and Nagpur. “Ayush-64 proved superior to only standard of care advocated by the Union Ministry of Health and other standard guidelines in the treatment of mild to moderate symptomatic patients,” Dr Chopra said.
The trial, the expert added, has set competitive standards for modern medicine and is an example of integrative medicine. It breaks the mindset that ayurvedic drugs are probably ineffective for chronic medical disorders and may not work in acute infections, Dr Chopra added.
No participants progressed to severe Covid-19 or required intensive care, the study showed. “Getting published in PLOS One, one of the most credible medical journals in the world, was an uphill task. Several journal referees critically reviewed the trial report and data on primary efficacy was re-analysed by journal experts before being accepted,” Dr Chopra underlined.
When contacted, Rajesh Kotecha, secretary of the Union Ministry of Ayush, told The Indian Express that the study was a great model reflecting a systematic approach by modern medicine doctors, epidemiologists, pulmonologists, basic science researchers, ethics experts from a host of institutions like the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), Department of Biotechnology (DBT), Ayurveda scientists and doctors.
To reduce the burden on hospitals during the second Covid wave, Kotecha said, the Ayush ministry conducted a community-based study of Ayush-64 in asymptomatic patients in home isolation.
“More than 64,000 participants enrolled in the study; 96 per cent of them clinically recovered after administering Ayush-64 for 20 days. These research studies have been published in indexed medical journals with good impact factors such as Frontiers in Public Health, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, and PLOS One, among others,” he said.
Dr Patwardhan pointed out. “In a way, this is a historical study which can serve as a role model for transdisciplinary research integrating a standard of care and ayurveda.”
Meanwhile, data from the Indian Medicines Pharmaceutical Corporation Limited (IMPCL), the public sector manufacturing unit of the Ayush ministry, showed that in 2021-22, Ayush-64 drugs worth more than Rs 28 crore was sold. According to Ayush ministry officials, good sales were reported from 46 other industries where the technology was transferred.