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Pharmatoka to receive ABC Award for Excellence in phytomedicinal research

By Adi Menayang

- Last updated on GMT

iStock / Alexandra Thompson
iStock / Alexandra Thompson
The American Botanical Council (ABC) announced that the 2017 Varro E. Tyler Commercial Investment in Phytomedicinal Research Award will be presented to French company Pharmatoka SAS.

The company specializes in the research, development, and production of herbal dietary supplements for urogenital health conditions. More specifically, Pharmatoka​ has focused on researching its standardized cranberry (Vaccinium macrocarpon​) extract and its effects on urinary tract health.

The ABC Tyler Award was created to honor one of the most respected scientists in late 20th-century herbal medicine and pharmacognosy. Varro E. Tyler, PhD, was an early member of ABC’s board of trustees 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 a leading pharmacognosy textbook and numerous other professional and popular books and academic articles. Tyler encouraged scientific and product integrity, and envisioned a rational phytomedicinal health care sector that valued the proper evaluation of products’ quality, safety, and efficacy.

“Pharmatoka is an excellent example of a phytomedicine manufacturer that has focused on funding clinical research on its key formulation, and, as such, is highly deserving of the ABC Tyler Award,”​ said Mark Blumenthal, founder and executive director of ABC. “Pharmatoka is respected for its research leadership on cranberry, and its research has helped set a therapeutic standard for cranberry extracts.”

ABC Chief Science Officer Stefan Gafner, PhD, said: “I congratulate Pharmatoka for this award, which is well deserved due to the company’s efforts to support its cranberry extract with clinical evidence. Of the many clinical trials that Pharmatoka initiated, I am particularly impressed by the study into the safety and efficacy of cranberry for infants and children between one month and three years of age.

“Clinical data on the benefits and adverse event potential in infants are lacking for a majority of herbal ingredients, despite the fact that parents often welcome safe and effective botanical dietary supplements for this age group. It is my hope that the pioneering work of Pharmatoka will inspire other suppliers and manufacturers of dietary supplements to follow suit.”

In 2004, Pharmatoka began developing a cranberry fruit juice extract for urinary tract heath, and the company launched its flagship product, ellura (stylized with lower-case letters, sold as urell in European markets), two years later.

Each ellura capsule contains 36 mg of bioactive cranberry proanthocyanidins (PACs), which have been shown to be able to reduce the adherence of certain bacteria to the lining of the urinary tract. In clinical trials, ellura has been shown to help reduce the frequency of recurrent cystitis (inflammation of the bladder), a type of urinary tract infection. To date, seven clinical trials have been conducted on ellura.

“I very much appreciate the honor that ABC has bestowed on the work that Pharmatoka has done during the past 12 years,” ​said Gunter Haesaerts, founder and CEO of Pharmatoka. “Pioneering the fundamental science of cranberry PACs and clinical observation of bacterial anti-adhesion was challenging but rewarding in the end. All that work eventually led to the creation of the first-ever cranberry PAC-based traditional herbal medicine,” ​he added, referring to the European regulatory approval of a cranberry herbal medicine based on traditional use and modern research.

According to its website, “Pharmatoka selects only top-quality [active ingredients] with full scientific support and drug master files…. We partner with an active scientific committee of international scientists from various fields of medicine and research.”​ In 2014, Pharmatoka created its second product, Prostaril, an extract of saw palmetto (Serenoa repens​) for prostate health, and the company is in the process of developing other phytomedicinal products.

Previous recipients of the ABC Tyler Award include Brassica Protection Products (2016); MediHerb/Integria Healthcare (2015); SFI Flordis International (2014); Wakunaga Pharmaceutical Company (2013); Horphag Research (2012); Bioforce AG (2011); New Chapter (2010); Bionorica AG (2009); Indena SpA (2008); and Dr. Willmar Schwabe Pharmaceuticals (2007).

The award will be presented at the 13th Annual ABC Botanical Celebration and Awards Ceremony on March 8, 2018, in Anaheim, California. The event, for ABC Sponsor Members, occurs during Natural Products Expo West.

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