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Don calls for better tools for drug development from herbs
Following the effectiveness of medicinal plants and products in the management and treatment of many diseases and infections, a don at the University of Ibadan, Professor Edith Ajaiyeoba has stressed the need for effective tools in new drug discovery and development.
Professor Ajaiyeoba, in an inaugural lecture entitled: Natural Remedies and Medicines: Evolution and revolution, she delivered at the university, stated that of the 250,000 species of higher plants present on earth, between five and 15 per cent has been explored and less than 10 per cent of tropical plants have been evaluated.
The don who remarked that the potential of the Nigerian biodiversity for drug discovery and development is vast and unquantifiable, said that medicines have evolved from natural remedies and will keep evolving as long as the earth remains.
Professor Ajaiyeoba declared that traditional medicines are good medicines and that it will continue to be an integral part of the primary health care.
She stated: “Specific areas as in the management of mental illness, traditional child birth and bone setting where it is evident that, traditional medicine is getting impressive results, needs further investigation.”
The don, who argued that traditional medicine practice provides useful medicines and so should be so recognised and assigned its proper place, stated the need for continuous documentation of medicinal plants identified in the Nigerian traditional medicines and practices like the Chinese traditional medicine, Ayuverda and others.
While stating that University of Ibadan was long overdue for a drug screening centre that will be a database for a repository of compounds that can be used for drug development, Professor Ajaiyeoba argued the passage of the bill on regulation of traditional medicine to ensure sanity in its practice.
At the lecture, Professor Ajaiyeoba called on pharmaceutical companies in the country to fund indigenous herbal medicine research to ensure continuous supply of raw materials, citing Pax Herbals in the Catholic Monastery in Ewu and Neimeth International Pharmaceuticals Plc as two industries that have manufactured herbal products that are completely indigenous.
The don, who highlighted common herbs that people can use to improve their health to include onion, garlic, avocado, bitter leaf and moringa plant, stated that developing one drug takes between 10 and 15 years and costs about one billion dollars.
Nonetheless, she reiterated that economic prospects of herbal medicines and products are tremendous; stressing that in the last two decades had witnessed an astronomical increase in the market value and sales of plants products.
Professor Ajaiyeoba stated: “Medicinal plants from the tropics have been the source of 60 per cent of anti-cancer drugs in the recent decade and provides up to $200 billion market for economically derived plant drugs.
“Apart from providing raw materials for the pharmaceutical industry in Nigeria, exploiting the production of these active ingredients from the respective plant sources can contribute significantly to income generation.”Share