Hoodia Diet Medicine
medicine set to deliver breakthrough obesity
native to the Kalahari Desert region of southern Africa and used by indigenous San Bushmen to stave off
hunger during long hunting expeditions is to be developed into a remedy to fight
foot plant, called Hoodia, contains an active ingredient which research has
shown could reduce appetite. The remedy was
originally patented by the South African Council for Scientific and Industrial
Research (CSIR), and licensed by British company Phytopharm. The pharmaceutical
giant Pfizer is now developing a pill based on the plant, also known as P57,
which they hope will banish food cravings and have a major impact on the six
billion euro global slimming aid market.
than 100 million people worldwide are thought to be at risk from conditions
related to obesity, such as heart disease and diabetes. Pfizer hopes that the
remedy, which has already been tested on healthy volunteers in
Britain, will be available in pill
form by 2007.
Phytopharm and the CSIR came in for criticism when it was revealed
that the two sides had made financial arrangements for development of the drug
without consulting the San tribe, who's traditional knowledge led to the
iscovery of Hoodia's appetite-suppressing properties.
explanation offered by Phytopharm chief executive Richard Dixey was that he
thought the nomadic people had died out. Since discovering that around 100,000
San still populate regions of Angola, South Africa, Botswana, and Namibia, a
deal has been struck that will see the bushmen receive a proportion of the
profits from the sale of the drug.
existence of the San tribe had been in question, with a dispersed population and
lack of opportunities creating the very real threat of extinction. Under the new
deal, it is hoped that millions of euro could be generated each year to fund
education programmes, create jobs, and allow the San to buy land.
All of which should ensure a healthy future for the tribe, as well
as those set to benefit from the new wonder drug. In one way or another, the
survival of the San owes much to the special properties of the Hoodia