Will “Big Pharma” Be Able to “Steal” Herbal and Natural Remedies?
In the drive to develop expensive pharmaceutical drugs that can generate huge revenues for drug companies, the big drug firms are looking more and more at natural remedies that work well. Natural remedies are safer and, in many cases, more effective than artificial drugs. The questions is, when they “steal away” these natural substances by patenting the active element, will this cut into low cost, natural health practices?
“(NewsTarget) German pharmaceutical giant Merck announced last week that it would collaborate with a Chinese pharmaceutical company to develop new cancer drugs based on traditional Chinese herbs and botanical medicines. Hong Kong-based Chi-Med — a pharmaceutical firm that develops consumer health products from natural ingredients used in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) — said it will team with Merck to find potential cancer drugs among roughly 10,000 herbal TCM compounds. However, critics say the partnership will only serve to allow Merck to generate more profits from ‘pirated’ natural plant chemicals sold as expensive pharmaceuticals. Consumer health advocate Mike Adams, author of ‘Take Back Your Health Power,’ said Merck’s partnership with Chi-Med would result in the company locating, copying and patenting chemicals found in Chinese herbs, then selling them as prescription drugs. ‘When Chinese firms steal intellectual property from the United States, we call it piracy, but when drug companies acquire medical know-how from Chinese medicine, it’s called research,’ Adams said. ‘But let’s be clear here — I don’t believe Merck is about to start promoting Chinese herbal cures for anything. Merck is most likely looking for molecules it can identify, modify and patent as pharmaceuticals,’ he said. ‘If it finds anything that works, the medicines will likely be sold as Western drugs, not Chinese medicine, and the FDA will continue its assault on herbal medicine even as it approves drugs based on herbal medicine.'”