Trends perceived in Natural Ingredients Used in the Pharmaceutical Industry

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  • The author of this article is Dr. R. B. Smarta- Founder and Managing Director, Interlink Marketing Consultancy.

The pharmaceutical industry is arguably one of the most promising sectors of the country with the market value estimated to be at $42 billion in 2021 and a projected $65 billion by 2024. The country is one of the global hubs in the domain of generic formulations. When it comes to safety and toxicity, products derived from nature are the most preferable option since they are safer and the observed toxic effects are comparatively lower. Hence, raw materials obtained from natural sources are a popular and booming avenue. Plants and animals have not only been the foundation for various medicinal systems such as Ayurveda, Homeopathy to name a few but also a matter of interest in modern medicinal systems currently with a significant focus on research and development.

It is interesting to note that natural products have always been extensively researched and utilized in numerous ways. For example, Reserpine (Rauwolfia serpentina) which was extracted during the 20th century was initially thought of as an animal tranquilizer before discovering its application in the treatment of psychosis and hypertension. Similarly, Liquorice (Glycyrrhiza glabra) which is currently used in the treatment of mouth ulcers was originally a household remedy for the common cold.

Phytopharmaceuticals is another avenue that has highlighted the importance of using natural ingredients. With various innovations taking place in the natural products’ domain with respect to technology and formulation techniques and with the advent of New Natural Product Entities (NNPE) [such as New Chemical Entities (NCE)] for patent development, it is quite apparent that the scope of natural ingredients looks promising. Drug excipients obtained from nature such as Gelatin, Lactose, Vitamin D and Carotenoids have an advantage over their synthetic counterparts in terms of costs as well.

Following is the list of some of the recent developments with respect to natural ingredients used in pharmaceutical formulations:

1. Antiserum and antibody

These are molecules that are obtained from immunized or vaccinated organisms. Antibodies and antisera are vital components for strengthening immunity. The Anti-Scorpion serum formulated is one such example that acts as an antidote for the bite of the Red Scorpion (Buthus Tamulus). The serum is a lyophilized immunoglobulin that has been extracted from immunized horses and ponies.

The bite of the scorpion if left untreated can be extremely hazardous with the young population being at the highest risk. The mechanism by which the venom acts is unknown, however, it is proposed that the venom blocks acts on protease inhibitors, ion channels and histamine.

2. Albumin product:

Albumin protein is generally found in the plasma and is primarily used in cases where heavy blood loss has occurred such as a burn or an injury. It is also used in conditions such as acute nephrosis, Hypoalbuminemia and Hypovolemiay[HJw. Albumin preparations are developed from the protein in order to restore the optimum plasma concentration of the body. It is interesting to note that currently albumin is being combined with bilirubin (pigment found in the bile) to potentiate the anti-oxidant property.

3. Glutathione formulations:

Glutathione is a substance created by utilizing residues of glycine, cysteine, and glutamine in the liver. It primarily acts as an anti-oxidant. Additionally, it is also used in anti-aging preparations and in the treatment of diseases such as Cancer.

Glutathione cream isalso currently being formulated with Kojic Acid Dipalmitate, vitamin C and E, Titanium Dioxide and essential oils in order to protect skin from the harmful rays of the sun. It is used as a vitamin supplement and also reduces the pigmentation occurring in the skin. It controls the production of melanin which thereby promotes skin lightening.

Moreover, the new advancement in Glutathione involves an effervescent tablet prevents skin and tissue damage. It helps in fighting against reactive oxidizing species (ROS) or free radicals, neutralizes toxins and heavy metals in the body leading to detoxification of cells.

4. Natural Excipients

Coloring agents are essential ingredients during the formulation of tablets, ointments, syrups, solutions, suspensions, etc. Synthetic coloring agents exhibit allergies and some of them are also found to be teratogenic as well as carcinogenic as well. Therefore, a demand for natural coloring agents have risen to provide safety and reduce toxicity.

Pharmaceutical companies have come a long way in terms of developing such a natural coloring agent. Nowadays, novel coloring agents are being developed that are safe and free from aluminum exhibiting a range of colors and are similar to lake colors which are in the form of dispersion or powder with improved stability. Such formulations do not hinder the taste of the medication which must be a crucial attribute for a coloring agent. The coating of the formulation does not require spray drying or high shear blending as well.

Scope for further research and innovations-

The process of drug discovery takes up to 10 years with an expense surpassing 800 million dollars. Natural ingredients have a promise scope and future, however, the path is filled with hurdles. Natural products are complex mixtures having more complex structures and stereochemistry. Therefore, elaborate extraction procedures are required for which the process and regulations are not well defined. Hence, elaborate regulatory guidelines and extensive research is the need of the hour in order to avail the advantages of natural ingredients up to its full extent.

About Author-

Dr. R. B. Smarta- Founder and Managing Director of Interlink Marketing Consultancy Pvt. Ltd. Being a thought leader in Pharmaceutical, Nutraceutical and wellness industry, he has been contributing globally through Interlink Consultancy and building business performance of his clients for 33 years. Having a Master’s degree (M.Sc.) in Organic Chemistry in Drugs, MMS in Marketing, PhD in Management, and FRSA (Fellow of Royal Society of Arts) London, he is-perusing his passion of converting science to Business. Besides being a consultant, he has been teaching at IIM, prestigious management institutes, Pharmacy College, Pharmacists Associations, guiding PhD students and written as many as 7 Books on Management, Pharma, Nutra, Foods domain, and many articles in prestigious journals/magazines.


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