It will be interesting to check on the state of the natural products industry. Most modern medicines come from natural products. Finding new chemical sources for new drugs has become increasingly difficult. The cost of drug discovery has skyrocketed. Drug manufacturers want to look at natural products as a source of new medicines. They often look towards biotechnology interventions. The process requires to be supported by algorithms.
The natural product industry is still quite far from building the capability to discover new drugs. However, I am convinced that it is just a matter of time before a natural product innovator or a startup steps into this space. Once that happens, we will be surprised at the speed at which the transformation of the natural industry will occur.
The shift, to my mind, has begun. Many ingredient manufacturers and suppliers are common to nutraceutical and pharmaceutical companies. The biotechnologists, drug discoverers, genetic re-engineering scientists, the IT coding and process companies, and the full complement of health sector providers, from equipment manufacturers to hospitals, are in the process of joining the drug discovery process.
Recently, Sun Pharma, an Indian pharmaceutical firm, announced a tie-up with a research institution to develop a new drug to treat dengue. The drug under development is from a botanical source. There are similar efforts underway in other parts of the world.
I eagerly await the emergence of a couple of Silicon Valley-type interventions in the industry. If that were to happen, Pandora’s box would have been prized open. A beginning to brand new natural product industry would then begin. Maybe this future will be written on the back of acquisitions, mergers, or building synergies between companies.
However, there still exists a divide between mainstream health care and the natural products industry. This divide is reflected in the membership profiles of major natural product industry associations where mainstream healthcare representation is almost non-existent.
The manufacturing process over the years has substantially improved. This has been helped by the US FDA regulator insisting on the highest standards in manufacturing. This has had a spillover impact on manufacturers’ and suppliers’ practices worldwide. They are now forced to comply with manufacturing process standards laid down by the US FDA.
Asia is a major producer of herbs, fruits, and natural products. Many people in the region depend on land, agriculture, and forests. Complaints about harmful organic and inorganic impurities in natural products produced in Asian countries are often raised. This has impacted the reputation of products manufactured in the region.
These complaints are often due to poor regulation, governance, and implementation. Asian societies need as much protection as European and American people. Asia must take advantage of trends in the natural products industry. This can be game-changing for the people of the region.
Look at my latest book – Holy Herbs: Modern Connections to Ancient Plants.