Development of natural product drugs in a sustainable manner

For approximately 85% of the world’s population, plant materials are a primary source of health care (Fabricant & Farnsworth 2001). This fact is not sufficiently accepted by pharmaceutical companies that are producing synthetic drugs for decades as solutions for incurable diseases. Knowledge of plants and their medicinal properties that were transmitted from generation to generation is in danger of disappearing. Developed countries in alliance with their large pharmaceutical companies, constantly in the struggle for new markets, do not permit the development of local pharmaceutical companies in developing countries.

Although it is generally known that nature provides right solutions in a form of medicinal plants corresponding exactly to the homeland of a particular human community, it often happens that we treat diseases with preparations originating from very distant countries. Even nowadays, we are facing a paradox with the same problem present for centuries: Outside parties frequently manipulate and interfere with local policy makers in order to gain access to local communities’ environmental resources. In addition, mainstream science and more developed society exploit environmental knowledge for locating and extracting natural resources, and making use of medicinal plants for commercial purposes. Developing communities or countries rarely benefit economically. At a time when we are facing global economic crisis, which most severely affects developing countries, assistance in raising their own capacities, including development of renewable natural products, would strengthen the economy of these countries, and economically unburden the rest of the world.

Humankind is not sufficiently aware that natural products drug discovery is important for new generations as a tool for their health care (Cordell & Colvard 2012). We know that for the major lethal diseases, there are no truly effective drug treatments. In addition, drug resistance to existing chemotherapeutic regimens for fungal and bacterial infections, AIDS, cancer, and malaria is increasing. Because of the challenges for health care in the future, this is the call for decision-makers, governments, international agencies, and pharmaceutical companies to commit to the sustainable development of natural products as medicinal
agents, particularly in developing countries.

Medicinal plants, both endemic and widespread, their resources and knowledge about their usage must be preserved since these plants could be renewable source for new drugs. It is known that chemicals and chemical reagents are typically non-renewable, and their use depletes our future resources. Consequently, all drug discovery programs, synthetic or natural, must be the concept of sustainability (Cordell 2011).

Read the full brief and share your comments below.
https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/6544118_Pesic_Development%20of%20natural%20product%20drugs%20in%20a%20%20sustainable%20manner.pdf

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