How is India’s traditional knowledge on medicinal plants going to be protected and what is being done to avoid patents on Indian medicinal plants?

India holds a rich heritage of ancient herbs and medicines and also has been considered as a ‘treasure house’ of aromatic plant species. While ginger has been patented to treat obesity, citrus peel extract treats skin disorder and injuries, which has also been recorded in Ayurvedic text as a key ingredient to cure skin disease. Likewise, Phyllanthus amarus which is also known as the Himalayan stem herb, is patented for the inhibition of the replication of a nucleosidic inhibitor-resistant retrovirus, Brassica rapa (mustard) has been patented to stabilize bowel function.

According to the International Patent Classification (IPC), non-patent literature sources are more and distributed vaguely, while patent literature is usually contained in several distinctive databases. The fact that this easily searchable medicinal literature is hugely affecting the credibility of this information as they give rise to the wrong granting of patent rights to the newly claimed subject matter. India’s battle to protect its traditional knowledge on medical plants is rooted in the faith that this knowledge on herbs is a potential treasure trove of starting material of credible drugs. However, if we notice the new trend, it is clear that foreign countries have started patenting a number of medical plants and their uses. Thus, to discourage other countries from parenting Indian heritage, it is important to document the indigenous knowledge regarding Indian herbs and plants. In order to protect the traditional knowledge and exploitation of unethical patents of the same, the Traditional Knowledge Digital Library was introduced in 2001. By documenting it electronically and classifying it according to International patent classification systems, Traditional Knowledge Digital Library aims to guard the ancient knowledge of India. The database has been compiled by 200 researchers, who have meticulously translated ancient Indian text.

Last updated on June 4th, 2021 at 06:01 pm