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RiteMed: Right from start to finish

(The Philippine Star) - July 31, 2012 - 12:00am

Manila, Philippines -  Plants have been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Modern technology enabled these plants to be processed into herbal medicines and supplements. Given the preparations involved in converting the plants to become over-the-counter drugs, public attention is now focused on the procedures involved, the quality and safety of the finished products.

Since it was established a decade ago, RiteMed has been following stringent quality and safety checks to ensure that medicines will reach the customers in perfect condition. Such quality process is nothing different from the “farm-to-table” approach of food manufacturers.

“Our quality check starts even before planting and harvesting our raw materials. It does not begin and end at the middle. It starts where it should be, at the first step of the whole process. And the most important thing is that we need to make sure that the quality of medicine is sustained until it reaches the patients,” says Nicandro A. Salud, sales and marketing head of RiteMed.

RiteMed works closely with its partners in producing herbal medicines. Its entry into the herbal market was undertaken in partnership with the authorities and experts in the field — Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD), and the National Integrated Research Program on Medicinal Plants (NIRPROMP).

RiteMed, the leading unibranded line of medicines in the Philippines, started marketing its first herbal product (StopCough Lagundi) during the latter part of 2011. It is backed by United Laboratories, Inc. (Unilab), which has been in business since 1945. It is the oldest and the largest pharmaceutical company in the Philippines.

RiteMed ensures that its raw materials for StopCough are subjected to several processes in accordance with the methods and systems that strictly adhere to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and World Health Organization (WHO) regulations and standards.

RiteMed’s StopCough medicine passed through 48 quality tests before it was made available on the market. Early this year, RiteMed, again in partnership with NIRPROMP, DOST and PCHRD, launched its sambong herbal drug for patients suffering from renal problems. Both herbal drugs go through intensive tests that include ensuring that the plant materials go through pharmaceutical quality assurance to prevent bacterial and fungal contamination and that the active ingredients from the herbal plant are sustained over a period of time consistent with the desired efficacy of the herbal product. 

RiteMed is fully committed to the formulation, manufacturing, and quality assurance processes that adhere not only to the NIRPROMP guidelines but also to Unilab’s international standards.

The Department of Health (DoH) has identified lagundi and sambong as two of the 10 medicinal plants that have medicinal value in the relief and treatment of certain diseases, particularly cough and renal problems.

NIRPROMP has been continuously conducting research, identifying Philippine plants and herbs that have proven medicinal properties way back 1970. It is the agency that is at the forefront of the government’s efforts to provide cheap, safe, and effective medicine to Filipinos through the discovery of evidence-based herbal medicines.

RiteMed, which markets drugs that are 40- to 80- percent lower than their equivalent branded drugs, is consistently fulfilling its promise to deliver “right medicine, priced right.” Its efforts towards providing access to quality medicines for chronic illnesses and life-threatening diseases that were otherwise unaffordable for the financially challenged have been recognized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

“With RiteMed’s position as the leading brand of herbal medicines, our partnership with respected institutions on quality and safety will pave the way for more Filipinos to gain better access to affordable and effective herbal medicines,” says Salud.

NIRPROMP has so far identified 10 medicinal plants in the Philippines that have been approved by the DoH: akapulko, ampalaya, bawang, bayabas, lagundi, niyog-niyogan, sambong, ulasimang bato, tsaang gubat, and yerba buena.    

RiteMed and NIRPROMP are optimistic that they will be able to launch more herbal products with clinical evidence to cater to the growing demand for alternative medicines. In fact, research is now underway for herbal extracts that could provide possible cure for diseases such as digitalis, arrythmia, tuberculosis, infective-microbials, and even cancer.

Over the long term, RiteMed is expected to extend its research and development collaboration to other universities, research institutions, and individual experts to expand and hasten the growth of the science-based, clinically-supported herbal industry using indigenous plant materials.

Recently, RiteMed forged a partnership with the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Center for Drug Research Evaluation and Studies, Inc. (UST-CeDRES) to ensure that its products pass through more rigid tests before they reach the patients. UST-CeDRES is recognized by the United States Pharmacopeia as a center of excellence for drug research, evaluation, and studies in the Philippines.

RiteMed comprehensive range of medicines is available in leading drugstores nationwide, including medicines for cardiovascular, respiratory, and endo-metabolic diseases, as well as vitamins and antibiotics.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH DEPARTMENT OF SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY DRUG ADMINISTRATION DRUG RESEARCH EVALUATION AND STUDIES HEALTH RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT HERBAL MEDICINES QUALITY RESEARCH RITEMED
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