After lagundi, a new batch of plant-based drugs
Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) - September 5, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will soon come out with a banner crop of 18 plant-based chemicals that can be developed into herbal supplements to address common ailments.

Dean Rowena Guevara, DOST undersecretary for research and development, said R&D on the “chemicals” has been completed, making them ready for commercialization.

Guevara told The STAR that supplement and drug companies can now invest in these 18 chemicals.

Interested adopters for commercialization have to negotiate licenses with the DOST, which has readied a system for technology transfer and licensing complete with a fairness opinion evaluation system.

The ailments addressed by the 18 chemicals are pain, gout, hypertension and diabetes, which Guevara said are common diseases among Filipinos.

She said that while the chemicals are ready for development into supplements, they need to go through three stages of clinical trial before being marketed as medicines.

Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña said the  development of the 18 plant-based chemicals into drugs showed that R&D has tremendous return on investment (ROI) potential for DOST.

“Aside from developing a pool of researchers and scientists pursuing innovative R&D, we also generate a return on investments,” Dela Peña said.

The DOST has been pouring steady investments into drug discovery and development activities mostly in academe through the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), which has been implementing the Drug Discovery and Tuklas Lunas programs. 

The lagundi cough medicine had been developed by researchers and scientists in the University of the Philippines Manila with R&D grants from DOST.

Dela Peña said the department had allocated P200 million for its grants-in-aid funding which can be tapped for drug discovery and R&D, and PCHRD was allocated P130 million, bringing to P330 million the DOST’s total budget for drug discovery and development activities. 

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