ABC Giving Varro E. Tyler Award to Napo Pharmaceuticals

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Austin, TX—The American Botanical Council (ABC) announced in a press release that the 2019 Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research Award will be presented to San Francisco-based Napo Pharmaceuticals, a subsidiary of Jaguar Health. Napo specializes in the research, development, and production of natural, plant-derived novel therapeutic agents. It has successfully developed and commercialized an extract from the sap of the Amazonian tree bark known as dragon’s blood.

The tree, scientific name Croton lechleri, grows in the Amazon basin. The red sap, the release says, has been used as a traditional medicine by indigenous peoples for centuries. Napo has isolated and developed a botanical drug called Crofelemer that has been demonstrated effective for treating several types of diarrhea. The FDA has approved Crofelemer for the indication of symptomatic relief of non-infectious diarrhea in patients with HIV/AIDS on anti-retroviral therapy.

It has also been studied in human clinical trials for the treatment of traveler’s diarrhea, diarrhea related to irritable bowel syndrome, and in acute infectious diarrhea. 34 human clinical trials have been conducted on Crofelemer, as well as several animal trials.

The ABC Tyler award was created to honor Varro E. Tyler, Ph.D., who was one of the most respected U.S. scientists in late-20th century herbal medicine and pharmacognosy, the release says. He was an early trustee of ABC, and Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Purdue University. He was the senior author of six editions of the leading pharmacognosy textbook that was formerly used in every college of pharmacy in the country, as well as numerous other professional and popular books and academic articles.

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Mark Blumenthal, Founder and Executive Director of ABC, said in the release: “During my 46-year career in the medicinal plant research and education community, Professor Varro Tyler was one of my prime mentors. He was strongly committed to the proposition that companies dealing with botanicals should invest some of their revenues into research on their phytomedicinal ingredients and products. I had the good fortune to accompany him on his two trips to the Peruvian Amazon in the 1990s for the ABC ‘Pharmacy from the Rainforest’ Ethnobotany Ecotours where we witnessed the traditional use of the red sangre de drago sap from the tree bark. With Napo Pharmaceuticals’ sustainable development of the trees for harvesting the sap and their development of an FDA-approved drug from it, I firmly believe that if he were here today, Prof. Tyler would fully support our choice of Napo Pharmaceuticals for this award in his name.”

Stefan Gafner, Chief Science Officer of ABC, added: “Napo Pharmaceuticals has not only compelling science, but also an exceptional track record with regards to its sustainability practices, e.g., its harvesting process, initiatives to conserve the environment in which the Croton lechleri trees grow, and benefit-sharing strategy with the countries and cultural groups with which it collaborates. In my opinion, this company is a role model for the entire botanical drug and dietary supplement industry.”

“We are very grateful to the American Botanical Council for this recognition,” stated Steven King, PhD, Jaguar Health’s EVP of Sustainable Supply, Ethnobotanical Research, and Intellectual Property. “We in turn would like to specifically acknowledge the intellectual contribution of local and indigenous peoples of the Northwest Amazon Basin for identifying the healing properties of traditional plant medicines. We would like to be sure that the international medical and patient community know that indigenous science and ethnomedical expertise continues to provide solutions to medical challenges for humans and animals.”

Lisa Conte, Jaguar Health’s president and CEO, commented: “We are delighted to receive this award that recognizes our focus on developing and commercializing novel, sustainably-derived therapeutics to enhance gastrointestinal health around the globe. We are also pleased to be among the distinguished group of past recipients that includes our esteemed partner, Indena,” she added. Indena received the ABC Tyler award in 2008.

The award will be presented at the 15th Annual ABC Botanical Celebration and Awards Ceremony on March 4, 2020, in Anaheim, CA, during Natural Products Expo West.

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