Friday, October 08, 2010

The 'Sweet' Pill - Homeopathy

The market for Homeopathy is poised for a steady growth with established players now even expanding globally.

It is no longer Allopathy's poor cousin. Homeopathy, the third most popular method of treatment in India after Allopathy and Ayurveda, is consolidating its position in India. The Rs 12.5-billion Homeopathy market in India, growing at a phenomenal pace of 25 per cent annually, is slated to become Rs 26 billion market by 2010, states a study by The Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India (ASSOCHAM). Homeopathy is also making its mark globally. 

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has termed Homeopathy as the second largest system of medicine. According to US-based The National Centre for Homeopathy, by 2017 the Homeopathy market will be equivalent to the alternative healthcare market, which is Rs 52,000 crore currently. Approximately 500 million people worldwide receive Homeopathic treatment and around 100 million at present use Homeopathy in India, various estimates suggest. With Homeopathy being practiced in 66 countries of the world, the world Homeopathy market is pegged at Rs 135 billion. 

France is a leader in this segment with its Homeopathy market pegged at Rs 45 billion. Studies reveal that in 2006-07, around five crore patients diagnosed their ailments with Homeopathy. This number is likely to exceed about 10 crore in next two-three years in view of Homeopathy's popularity and acceptability among the general masses. 

Going Virtual
Not ignoring the fact that there are not many established players in the industry, Homeopathy still has quite an interesting mix of models. While doctors has been following the traditional model of standalone clinics as well as thinking about franchisee models to expand in tier II cities, interestingly the model that is a big hit is cyber clinic. In fact, Homoeopaths seem to be quite tech-savvy as most of them have exploited this medium to the core. And these doctors don't just think local, but global as well. Just by operating through their small clinics they are able to reach a huge population base. 

Growth Drivers
There are several factors pumping the growing Homeopathy market in India. Until recently, Homeopathy had no platform for advertising or popularity. But with players like Dr Batra's who explored this medium aggressively, the popularity of this stream soared. However, reportedly the group has been slapped with many notices for breaking advertising regulations which prevail for healthcare organisations. 

The debilitating side effects of Allopathy became a boon for Homeopathy.  This is the reason why people are moving away to safer and surer alternatives. People are now looking out for long-term cures and because Homeopathy is safe and permanent, there is a shift from Allopathy to Homeopathy." 

Also, in the alternative segment, Ayurveda is moving neck to neck with this segment, but Homeopathy seems to have certain distinctive advantages. Practicing Homeopath as well as a research scientist in Homeopathy, Jalgoan-based Dr Mahendra Kabra who has 10 research centres in London and runs his cyber clinic gives an insight. "It is true that Ayurveda is quite popular because it's a stream that originated in the country. But, off late the rising cost of Ayurvedic medicine due to paucity of herbal plants and extinction of various species are some limitations affecting Ayurveda. On the other hand, Homeopathic drugs are most eco-friendly. One can treat the global population with a kilo of basic drug substance. It's truly 'nano." 

A recent ASSOCHAM's survey on 'Homeopathy adoption on rise' found that in metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore and other satellite towns like Chandigarh, Hyderabad, Lucknow of nearly 5,000 patients randomly surveyed, over 55 per cent preferred Homeopathy as the treatment is safer and physiologically satisfactory with no side effects. The study also found that nearly 80 per cent of them held that Homeopathy users switch on to Allopathy only on exceptional cases and in acute emergencies, otherwise homeopaths are best to be consulted for removal of majority of physical and other aliments. Many of them also said that Homeopathy is increasingly becoming an alternate to allopathic medicines because of their fake contents and patients including doctors loosing confidence in them, the study stated. Many patients also feel that Homeopathy is a more personalised treatment, with greater one-on-one interaction between the patient and the physician. 

Integrated Medicine-The Future
It is a matter of time that more organised players enter this market bringing in standardisation, stricter regulation and increased awareness and then it would be no surprise that India would overtake the other market leaders in the world, considering its huge population base. Experts believe that with the era of 'integrated medicine' just ushering in, wherein all the system of medicine are available under one roof, it is the consumers who will ultimately decide the fate of Homeopathy. Homeopathy will receive a major boost only after its integration with the mainstream medicine. The patient needs to be given a choice. If everything is available under one roof, it should be left to the patient to choose a pathy which works best for him. For, the human body is not a machine but a very interesting phenomena wherein systems keep on changing and there would never be only 'one' medicine that works. Depending on his/ her body type, he/she will be able to decide as to what works best on the body. Hence, there needs to be more synergy between mainstream doctors and homeopaths who should refer all kinds of treatments for the patient, be it naturopathy, ayurveda or allopathy.

He also feels that it is very unfair to always compare Allopathy with Homeopathy as the basis on which the efficacy of these treatment are benchmarked are completely different. 

But as far as having trust and faith in Homeopathy goes, it has left behind allopathy way back. Just that homeopaths themselves need to be confident enough of their own therapy and hone their business skills just like their clinical acumen to make it big. Until then, it will always be a mute spectator and give hope to those for whom all other doors have been closed.


  1. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has termed Homeopathy as the second largest system of medicine. According to US-based The National Centre for Homeopathy, by 2017 the Homeopathy market will be equivalent to the alternative healthcare market
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