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Taiwan introduces herbal medicine for cancer-related fatigue

2012/07/31 19:53:33

Taipei, July 31 (CNA) A biotech company on Tuesday introduced a herbal medicine for the treatment of cancer-related fatigue (CRF), touting it as the first drug ever developed specifically for that purpose.

The intravenous drug, made from a herb commonly used in Chinese medicine, can increase the chi energy of patients, said Chen Kuang-chi, chief executive officer of Maywufa Bio Pharmaceutical Group.

The drug, recently approved by Taiwan's health authorities, is expected to provide relief for about 80 percent of cancer patients, he said at a press conference.

"Astragalus membranaceus, or huang chi, is the number one energy booster in Chinese medicine," said Lee Kuo-hsiung, an academician of Academia Sinica, Taiwan's top research institute.

The drug, however, does not come cheap. One gram of the powder, which makes two injections, costs NT$25,000 (US$840). The suggested dose for cancer patients is two to three injections per week, according to the developers.

Lee, who came up with the idea of integrating huang chi into western medicine, said Taiwan has a great advantage in developing new drugs based on Chinese herbs.

A large scale clinical trial of the new drug on stroke patients is underway, as the company is also trying its effectiveness on people suffering from other diseases, Chen said.

Although most healthy people experience fatigue from time to time, CRF is said to be more severe. Causes of CRF include anemia, emotional distress, sleep disturbance and side effects of cancer treatments.

(By Nancy Liu)