Innovation System and Increasing Reformulation Practices in the Ayurvedic Pharmaceutical Sector of South India

In: Asian Medicine
Harilal Madhavan Azim Premji University

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This article emphasises the role of domestic knowledge capabilities and networks in shaping an incentive structure for innovation and research. I combine an analysis of in-house research activities by ayurvedic firms in South India with their inter-firm and inter-institutional relations in the establishment of a new innovation regime aiming to promote growth in the ayurvedic sector. The tensions typical of this competitive environment are discussed by paying attention to the absence of contingent regulatory practices and the recent efforts in this direction as illustrated by the use of the ‘Magical Remedies Act’ to curtail the claims of many firms in the market. The ayurvedic pharmaceutical company Oushadhi owned by the Government of Kerala as well as the private firms sna Oushadhasala Pvt. Ltd. and Vaidyaratnam Oushadhasala Pvt. Ltd. (all from Thrissur district of Kerala) are analysed to delineate their research priorities and bottlenecks for innovations. The data of this ayurvedic sector is contrasted with the case of the Kani tribe and the ways in which their traditional knowledge has been reformulated into an industrial ayurvedic product. Through this exploration, the paper attempts to offer an economic explanation for increasing reformulation practices in Ayurveda.

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