Development of Herbal Medicines in Indonesia Still Open
Development of herbal medicine in Indonesia is still quite open. However, until now there is no link that facilitates the development of herbal drugs optimally between the academic world, the industry and the public. Nowadays, harmonization of herbal medicine at the ASEAN level is imperative if Indonesia does not want to be left behind in the competition with foreign herbal products which are free to enter this country. "In this era of free markets, the ASEAN level harmonization on the herbal medicinal products are absolutely necessary if Indonesia does not want to be left behind in the competition with foreign products," said the S-2 Program Coordinator for Science & Technology, Faculty of Pharmacy UGM, Dr.rer.nat. Triana Hertiani, Si, Apt., in the middle of the International Workshop on Development of Phytochemicals into Commercial Pharmaceutical Products, which was held at the Faculty of Pharmacy on Monday (5/7).
Triana said the workshop is the implementation of a cooperation with the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands, in the 18th Advanced Course in Pharmaceutical Sciences program (ACPS). The Activities that will be held from 5-8 July will present Prof. Dr. Oliver Kayser of the Groningen Research Institute of Pharmacy, Netherlands, as keynote speaker. The workshop is attended by lecturers, either from or outside the UGM, researchers, and drug industry players.
Triana further added, besides the issue of harmonization, the development of herbal medicines so far is also hindered in getting commercialized while these drugs have been well-accepted by the society. Triana recognized that by the standard and quality of products, Indonesian herbal medicine is quite good. But unfortunately, with the free market, particularly in the ASEAN level, there is different effect between large industry with small industry. "To be able to compete with foreign products, the attitude and impact between small and large industries would be different," she said.
In the meantime, the researcher who is also Vice Dean for Academic Affairs, Research, and Community Service, Faculty of Pharmacy UGM, Prof. Dr. Subagus Wahyuono, M.Sc., Apt., conveyed two important things of the herbal medicine development, which is associated with the technology to augment the active compound and the template of the active compounds so that they can be obtained in large quantities. "The technology to reproduce the active compound and the active compounds template are actually quite important to be developed," explained Subagus.
Subagus pointed out that even though the number of herbal plants in Indonesia is abundant, the active compounds that can be produced are relatively small. For example, 1 kg of medicinal plant materials only produces approximately 1 mg of active compound that can be utilized optimally. Therefore, the development, especially through biotechnology, can be one of the solutions. "Biotechnology is not exploited yet to the utmost. Yes, once again, funding is another problem," he said.
Herbal medicinal plants development is necessary to do due to the abundant amount of these plants in the country. A study even mentioned that 80% of existing drugs are derived from natural materials. "It is very abundant, such as morphine, turmeric, or herbs for endurance or stamina enhancer," explained Subagus.