The need for enhancement of research, development, and commercialization of natural medicinal products in Nigeria: lessons from the Malaysian experience.Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med 2008; 5(2):120-30AJ
The use of natural medicinal products in modern medicine as complementary and alternative therapies is of the increase globally. More so in developing and third world countries where the cost of research and development of synthetic drugs is prohibitive and technological facilities as well as expertise are lacking. These, coupled with the crumbling health care management systems in many of such countries make herbal medicines attractive alternatives. The potential medicinal values of these plant products are not being properly harnessed and research and development (R&D) in this area are lagging behind. R&D and consultancy services span from phytochemical analysis, standardization and quality control of herbs, and dosage forms design to preclinical and clinical trials. This paper tries to highlight all the necessary steps needed to conduct research and development in this area and proposes the nitty-gritty needed to impose statutory regulations on ensuring the quality, safety, efficacy, and commercial distribution of such products. The paper examines these important issues and highlights by way of examples, some of the steps taken and the positive achievements of the people and government of Malaysia towards self reliance in the area of natural medicinal plant research. It is primarily intended to map out strategies on how Nigeria in conjunction with research and academic institutions can be actively involved in natural products R&D, taking the Malaysian experience as a prototype. It is also aimed at urging government's efforts to encourage research in this area and impose regulations for commercial production and distribution of such products.