Suez Life Sciences is the arm of the group focused on botanicals and generic drugs. The term “herbs” refers to plants or parts of them, including grasses, flowers, berries, seeds, leaves, nuts, stems, stalks and roots, which are used for their therapeutic and health- enhancing properties. Generations of skilled herbal practitioners, researchers and scholars have refined and tested the vast science of botanicals, producing thousands of plant-based remedies that are safe and effective. The proper and judicious use of herbs is often successful in the treatment of illness when other, more conventional medicines and methods fail. For 5.1 billion people worldwide, natural plant-based remedies are used for both acute and chronic health problems, from treating common colds to controlling blood pressure and cholesterol. Plants are the original source materials for as many as 50% of the pharmaceuticals in use in Europe today. This is to say that either the drugs currently contain plant-derived materials, or synthesized materials from agents originally derived from plants. Some medicines, such as the cancer drug Taxol (from Taxus brevifolia) and the anti-malarial quinine from Cinchona pubescens and are manufactured from plants. Other medicinal agents such as pseudoephedrine originally derived from ephedra species, and menthol and methylsalicylate, originally derived from from mentha species and wintergreen (gaultheria procumbens) respectively, are now synthetically produced.
In the field of Botanicals, we are currently engaged in setting up a state of the art super critical fluid extraction unit in the Balkans. The unit will be the first of its kind in Eastern Europe, and will focus on adding value on site, to the medicinal plants of the former Yugoslav Republics and Albania.
Many generic drugs are now being prescribed and the trend is increasing. For example, in Europe, the number of all generics prescriptions has more than doubled from11% in 2000 to 23% in 2010. However, many myths and questions about generic drugs remain and information may be difficult to come by. It is therefore not surprising, that even physicians and pharmacists are not always fully up to date in their understanding of generic drugs. Some of their questions centre on issues such as: are generic drugs really as good as the original; are we really dealing with an adequately tested, high quality medicinal product.
Today, generic drugs present an equally well-tolerated and efficacious alternative to established medicinal products, which contain well known, rigorously tested active ingredients. An established originator product undergoes expensive and protracted development (up to 15 years) with inherently high preclinical and clinical research costs in order to be given market approval. The development of generic drugs, on the other hand, is relatively quick and inexpensive, which allows generic drugs to be sold at a distinctly cheaper price. This is due to the waiving of new preclinical and clinical studies, aside from some bioequivalence studies. Their lower price however should not be equated with “cheap quality”. In fact, generic medicines undergo the same strict scrutiny by the European or national medicines authorities as reference products. At Suez Life Sciences, we are committed to sustaining life and promoting healthcare through increasing access to high quality, effective, affordable generic medicines and products.