Forum highlights research and FDA’s role in marketing herbal products

Dr. Suzette H. Lazo, Director IV of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) discusses the implication of ASEAN harmonization to herbal industry.

To identify gaps in the existing standards and regulations for the herbal industry,  the Philippine Council for Health Research and Development of the Department of Science and Technology (PCHRD-DOST) and AGHAM Party List sponsored a multi-sectoral meeting themed: “Philippine Herbal Industry-Standards and Regulatory Settings” last March 19, 2012 at the Traders Hotel, Pasay City.

Participants from various sectors - pharmaceutical industry sector, academic institutions, government and non-government organizations and media 

met to listen and respond to the discussions led by experts including: Dr. Ranier B. Villanueva, Founding President of the Chamber of Herbal Industries of the Philippines, Dr. Suzette H. Lazo, Director IV of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), Atty. Andrew Michael S. Ong, Deputy Director General of the Intellectual Property Office of the Philippines (IPOPHL), Dr. Maribel G. Nonato, Professor at the University of Sto. Tomas, Atty. Rejie Jularbal, Legal Counsel of the Advertising Standards Council (ASC) and Dr. Candida B. Adalla, Officer-In-Charge, Director of the Department of Agriculture Biotech Program.

Highlighted in the discussions was the position of agencies such as the FDA, ASC and IPOPHL in establishing a strong economic market for the herbal industry.

“The FDA works towards compliance with the ASEAN Harmonization guidelines of 2015 because it has a significant impact on herbal products’ marketing strategies across the region,reported Dr. Lazo.  She said that the compliance with the harmonization can eliminate technical barriers to trade without compromising drug quality, efficacy and safety. As a response to the harmonization, Dr. Lazo announced that the standardization and certification program for Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) will start in 2013.

The ASC, on the other hand, regulates all herbal product advertisements in print, radio and television. “A wrong advertising material can ruin the reputation of the herbal drugs in the market. That’s why the ASC works with other agencies like FDA prior to approval of advertisements,” said Atty. Rejie Jularbal.  Though regulations on advertising herbal medicines were followed, Dr. Rainier B. Villanueva said, “There’s need for intensifying standards as guide for approving marketing campaigns.”

In terms of intellectual property (IP), Atty. Michael Ong said that the IPOPHL ensures that IP protection of herbal products is secured through the issuance of patents and trademarks. “It is the only way that the herbal industry can compete worldwide because IP protection creates incentives for individuals and firms to invest in research and development and to commercialize knowledge output. Thus, allowing individuals and firms to profit,” he explained.