Traditional remedies offer opportunities, challenges

The Financial Times delves into the push to develop new therapeutics from traditional Chinese and Indian remedies. There have been successes, including the anti-malarial artemether, which was developed from a plant long used to treat fevers. But researchers note that there are some extraordinary challenges. Natural remedies often rely on a volatile mix of natural ingredients that can have a radically varied effect on different people.

"Traditional medicines can be very dangerous," says Paul Herrling, Novartis' chief of corporate research. "Practitioners had no concept of statistics or of long-term consequences such as treatments that may cause cancer when used over many years."

Novartis and Merck were the only two big pharma companies to stay in the field. And a slate of biotechs joined them, including Nicholas Piramal and Phytopharm. MerLion in Singapore has been active as well after acquiring some of GlaxoSmithKline's traditional assets.

- read the article in the Financial Times

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