September 22, 2019

By EDD K. USMAN, Twitter @edd1819, Instagram @bluestar0910, Facebook: SDN — Science, Digital & Current News

FINALLY, after a long process, a “tawa-tawa” herbal food supplement is now in the market.

That’s at least in some selected pharmacies in Iloilo, Negros, Laguna, and Cavite last week. For now.

It’s plastic container identifies it as “Tawa-Tawa (Euphorbia hirta) Standardized Extract” under the Daily Apple brand of Herbanext Laboratories, Inc.

Secretary Fortunato T. de la Peña relayed this to SDN — Science and Digital News, saying its manufacturer has supplied or released the dengue-fighting green-colored capsules to some drug stores in the four provinces.

He received the information from DOST VI Regional Director Rowen R. Gelonga.

De la Peña learned that Herbanext, the manufacturer, will distribute the Tawa-Tawa Standardized Extract herbal supplements nationwide on August 21.

Philip S. Cruz, founder and president of Herbanext, confirmed this on Monday, August 12, to SDN — Science and Digital News.

1 a 1 Herbanext Philip Cruz

Herbanext Founder and President Philip S. Cruz speaks in DOST forum in the past. He established the company in 2001. (Photo: Herbanext)

Cruz said Herbanext released last week 4,000 bottles of the food supplement, each bottle with 30 capsules. (That’s 120,000 capsules in total.)

Herbanext, established in 2001, has “a 2,500 m2 cGMP-certified and Halal-accredited manufacturing plant in Bago City, Occidental,” creating product portfolio that includes “a wide range of nutraceutical products, healthy beverages, and functional foods all utilizing locally grown medicinal herbs.”

The company is “the first and only dedicated extraction and spray-drying facility for medicinal herbs in the country.”

“Considering the gravity of the current dengue epidemic, the good safety profile presented by the product, and the CPR granted by FDA, Herbanext has decided to make the product available to the market by August 21 as a food supplement with no label claims,” Cruz said.

“FDA” is Food and Drug Administration; “CPR” stands for Certificate of Product Registration.

The company applied for the tawa-tawa food supplement’s CPR with the FDA in 2018 which was “granted on April 24, 2019.”

The tawa-tawa product of the Filipino company, the Philippines’ is now being sold at Daily Apple stores and selected local pharmacies with SRP (suggested retail price) of Php15 per capsule (Php450 per bottle).

Generika drustores, which sells generic medicines, will distribute the product nationwide.

1 a 1 Herbanext spray

Some of the herbal extracts of Herbanext. (Photo: Herbanext)

“The recommended dosage is 1 to 2 capsules 3x daily for adults, to be taken before meals. Capsule contents may be dissolved in a small amount of water or milk and consumed as such if desired.

“A maximum of 5-7 days of consumption of the product is recommended,” the Herbanext top executive said.

Herbanext plans to release some 3,500 bottles of the food supplement for dengue during the official launch of the product on August 21, as it targets 10,000 bottles for September. Generika has wide distribution reach with its 830 stores across the country.

The company developed the tawa-tawa extract capsules through a grant from the Tuklas LunasTM Program of the DOST being implemented by its Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (DOST-PCHRD).

Herbanext cited the popularity of tawa-tawa or gatas-gatas, which is known to have antiviral and anti-thrombocytopenic (platelet increasing activity).

1 a 1 Herbanext facility

High-tech facility of Herbanext. (Photo: Herbanext)

It added that the herbal plant “remains the most popular traditional remedy for dengue in the Philippines. Its traditional use of treating the symptoms of dengue can be traced back centuries.”











Herbanext to Launch Standardized Tawa-tawa Extract Capsules Developed through Research Grant from DOST’s Tuklas LunasTM Program

Tawa-tawa or gatas-gatas (Euphorbia hirta L.), with known antiviral and anti-thrombocytopenic (platelet increasing) activity, remains the most popular traditional remedy for dengue in the Philippines. Its traditional use for treating the symptoms of dengue can be traced back centuries. To this day, however, mainstream use of tawa-tawa has not been accepted due to the lack of scientific data supporting safety, efficacy, and proper dosing. Moreover, the traditional practice of preparing a decoction from fresh plants is not practical in urban centers where the supply of the herb is scarce and heavy metal contamination is a real concern. With dengue epidemics a recurring problem in Western Visayas, Mr. Philip S. Cruz, President of Herbanext Laboratories in Bago City, Negros Occidental, embarked on the development of a standardized tawa-tawa extract capsule in 2013. Already recognized by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) with several awards, Mr. Cruz is a researcher and inventor from industry. He is also a 2005 TOYM Awardee.

From 2013 to 2015, pre-clinical studies were commissioned by the company under the Research Center for Natural and Applied Science (RCNAS) of the University of Santo Tomas, to establish the safety of the product and its efficacy as an anti-thrombocytopenic agent. Results of the acute toxicity study indicate that the spray-dried tawa-tawa extract is virtually non-toxic with no evidence of organ abnormalities even at a very high dose of 10 g/kg. This dosage is equivalent to an 8 kg child consuming around 250 capsules of tawa-tawa extract in a day. Dose-response studies, on the other hand, demonstrated that the spray-dried extract is able to retain the desired bioactivity of the herb even after processing, having efficacy at a wide dosage range. In a recent cytotoxicity screening conducted at Disease Molecular Biology and Epigenetics Laboratory in UP Diliman, tawa-tawa extract did not produce nephrotoxicity and hepatotoxicity in in vitro cell models.

In 2015, Mr. Cruz continued its work on tawa-tawa with the support of DOST’s Philippine Council for Health Research and Development (PCHRD) under the Drug Discovery and Health Products Program now known as Tuklas LunasTM. From 2015-2019, Mr. Cruz and his research team worked on the identification and quantification of key bioactive compounds in tawa-tawa, and several other popular Philippine medicinal herbs, and developed protocols for the manufacturing of standardized dosage forms. Within the year, the University of San Agustin’s Center for Natural Drug Discovery and Development (CND3) in Iloilo, in partnership with Herbanext, shall start another DOST-funded study on tawa-tawa with the goal of identifying the specific compounds responsible for its platelet increasing properties. It is estimated that another 3-5 years of research and clinical studies are still needed before the product can comply with the drug standards of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Herbanext applied for a Certificate of Product Registration (CPR) as a food supplement with the FDA in 2018. The CPR was granted on April 24, 2019. While it is neither the first nor the only tawa-tawa food supplement product in the market today with an FDA license, it is the only one that is based on a standardized extract. The advantage of a standardized extract is that the key active ingredients of tawa-tawa that are believed to be responsible for its antiviral and platelet increasing activity are present at a guaranteed minimum quantity. Being an extract, the product also has the advantage of a lower dosing (hence better patient compliance), and potentially a better absorption as the extract is 100% soluble. The manufacture of such product has been made possible through a loan provided by DOST to Herbanext to acquire modern processing machinery and laboratory equipment.

Considering the gravity of the current dengue epidemic, the good safety profile presented by the product, and the CPR granted by FDA, Herbanext has decided to make the product available to the market by August 21 as a food supplement with no label claims. The current food supplement product, which already has pharmaceutical qualities in many respects, will hopefully help provide a stop-gap measure in addressing the debilitating and potentially fatal effect of the dengue virus, while the much needed herbal drug products that will be acceptable to the medical community are still under development.

The product under the Daily Apple brand of Herbanext is already sold at Daily Apple stores and  selected local pharmacies at an SRP of P15/capsule and packed in bottles of 30s. The product will be distributed nationwide by Generika drugstores starting August 21. The recommended dosage is 1-2 capsules 3x a day for adults, to be taken before meals. Capsule contents may be dissolved in a small amount of water or milk and consumed as such if desired. A maximum of 5-7 days of consumption of the product is recommended. A list of the outlets where the product will be available may be found on the Herbanext website

Herbanext Laboratories is the first private company tapped by DOST-PCHRD’s Tuklas LunasTM Program to participate in the drug discovery research in the Philippines in collaboration with the academe. Launched in 2013, there are now a total of at least four private organizations in Tuklas LunasTM and over a dozen academic and government research institutions, making it the biggest drug research program in the country to date. The Program which focuses on producing herbal drugs is aimed at capitalizing on the extensive medicinal plant resources and traditional knowledge of the Philippines, and also on improving University-Industry research collaboration in the country which is amongst the lowest in the region.

From Phillip> FYI lang, we will release around 3,500 bottles during the launching. We are targetting 10,000 bottles for September. Generika is asking sana 50,000 bottles per month so we are trying our best to look for rawmat. Generika has 830 stores nationwide. Tawa2 is most abundant after the first rains of May and dies when there is too much rain.

Sir they have distributed to some pharmacies in iloilo, negros, laguna and cavite but the nationwide distribution will start aug21 thru generika. Dir Gelonga, DOST 6

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