Gaining popularity

Last Updated: Saturday 04 July 2015

herbal medicines are gradually gaining acceptance in the us. The Food and Drug Administration (fda), recently agreed to allow a British company to test a herbal eczema treatment on people, even though its active ingredient is not known. Till now, fda was only willing to approve trials once the active ingredients have been purified or synthesised in the lab.

Phytopharm of Godmanchester, near Cambridge, uk , has now been given Investigational New Drug approval for its product Zemaphyte, which contains extracts from 10 traditional Chinese medicinal plants. It will be tested on people with eczema in 20 medical centres across the us. "We're seeing the emergence of a new class of medicine," says Richard Dixey, Phytopharm's chief executive officer.

The fda is slowly realising the effectiveness of herbal medicines. It has been working with three researchers who are testing herbal mixtures in clinical tests, says Freddie Ann Hoffman of the fda's office of Health Affairs. However, Zemaphyte approval is the first given to a drugs company.

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