DOH to manufacture 2 more herbal drugs next year

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 20 October) – The Department of Health’s drug-making unit would begin manufacturing two more herbal drugs from the list of 10 certified herbal plants in the country.

This will raise to five the total herbal drugs produced by the government.

Wilfredo P. Principe, quality assurance manager of the Philippine Institute of Traditional and Alternative Health Care (Pitahc), said the herba buena (Mentha abvensis Linn.) and ampalaya, or bitter gourd, would see production next year for distribution to government hospitals nationwide.

Already in production are lagundi (Vitex negundo L), sambong (Blumea balsamifera) and the tsaang gubat (Ehretia microphylla Lam.).

The herba buena is an analgesic, which relieves pain, while ampalaya controls blood sugar and would be recommended for persons with insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus.

Lagundi is used to treat cough, sambong for kidney and urinary tract disorders because of its diuretic property, and tsaang gubat for diarrhea.

But the three manufactured drugs are being distributed only in the government hospitals, with Principe admitting that production could not cope with the demand.

The sambong drug is being manufactured in the Davao City plant located inside the DOH office along J.P. Laurel Ave. near the Southern Philippine Medical Center. The plant could produce at least five million tablets per month.

“This number is less than the actual demand nationwide,” Principe said.

The bulk of the production goes to Metro Manila hospitals, and the DOH central office would allocate the rest to the regions, he added.

The Davao plant relied on its sambong herb supply only from the production farms in Malaybalay in Bukidnon and in Batangas.

The tablets are sold at P180 per 100 tablets, or P1.80 per tablet.

Principe said that the commercial drug made by private companies sells for as much as P3.50 per tablet.

Lagundi is being manufactured in the DOH Tacloban, Leyte plant, where it has a plantation area.

The other Pitahc plants are located in Tuguegarao in Cagayan Valley and in Cotabato City, where the herba buena would be likely manufactured. (MC/MindaNews)