The gulf Today
September 28, 2006
Reshmi Sivaram, New Delhi

NRI scientist gets nod for Glaucoma drug


NEW DELHI: A Healthcare company of an NRI scientist has been accorded approval by the regulatory authority in India to manufacture and market a drug made from wild plant which has been clinically proved to be an effective cure for Glaucoma.

"It is the first pharmaceutical product derived from a plant to be approved in India, it is also the first such eye care product worldwide," according to US-based scientist Muhammed Majeed, who is the Chairman and Managing Director of Sabinsa Corporation with a turnover of $110 million.

The drug -- Forskohlin Opthalmic Solution, has been accorded approval by the Drug Controller General of India last week.

Developed by the Bangalore-based Sami Labs, a subsidiary of Sabinsa, the drug will be available in the market under the brand name "Ocufors" within the next three months.

Glaucoma is a progressively degenerative disease of the optic nerve and is the second-leading cause of blindness in the world affecting 67 million people globally.

Forskohlin is an extract prepared from the herb "Coleus Forskohlii," a member of the mint family of plants that grows wild in some parts of India. In some areas people grow it and use it to make pickle.

His said his company had got a US patent for the preparation of Forskohlin from Coleus Forskohlii.

Dr Majeed has been cultivating the plant in more than 4047 hectares of land in Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

"The plants are ready for use and the manufacturing of the drug would start in our facility at Bangalore within the next three months."

He said the drug had undergone all mandatory studies and clinical research at six different locations in India, results of which have been found to be very positive.

In this context, Dr Majeed pointed out that the studies by his team of scientists was in continuation of the research that pharma major Hoechst had undertaken in the eighties." Hoechst had identified the efficacy of Forskohlin in the treatment of Glaucoma but they could not make an effective formulation and subsequently dropped the studies midway through."

"Ocufors is 30 per cent more effective than the most popular drug for glaucoma in the market today," Dr Majeed said, adding that "it has no side effects."