Sept 20: Bhutanese pharmaceutical research officials have claimed that a vital ingredient for tablets used to treat influenza, including H1N1, is now available in Bhutan.
Officials confirmed that the ingredient could be extracted from herb plants known as star anise.
This plant is believed to be available in abundance in Samdrupjongkhar and Mongar districts where as it is also found in Thimphu, Diafam and Radi.
According to officials, the local names for the plant are Sengpashing and Wonbasinang.
“The star anise found in Bhutan is of a different species but closely related to the one used to produce tamiflu tablets,” said the officiating head of pharmaceutical and research unit at the institute of traditional medicine services (ITMS), Ugyen Dendup.
Star anise, available in parts of China, is used to produce tamiflu tablets.
Ugyen Dendup, however, said that although there was a close relation between the star anise found in Bhutan and those found in other places, there was no study to estimate the exact percentage of the ingredient (shikimic acid) content of the Bhutanese star anise. “If the percentage of shikimic acid content is good, then there’s a huge prospect in the international market. But first there are certain exploratory works that we need to undertake.”
Bhutan is one of the best-known sources for medicinal herb plants in south Asia region, however, the government has not been strong enough to utilize its significance at present context.