The Centre for Plant Medicine Research (CPMR) on Wednesday launched ‘URO 500,’ a herbal drug for the management of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), a non-malignant enlargement of the prostate gland among men.
The drug, has been proven to be efficacious through several tests, and produced with extracts from the Croton membranaceus plant.
Dr. Alfred Ampomah Appiah, CPMR Deputy Executive Director, said a prostate enlargement was a common condition among men aged 30 years and above.
The condition, he said, has been found to affect eight per cent of men aged 31 to 40 years; 40 to 50 per cent of those aged 51 to 60 years; and 80 per cent of men above 80 years.
Dr Appiah stated this during the launch of the URO 500 product at this year’s Dr. Oku Memorial Symposium in Accra.
He said in Ghana, the prevalence rate of Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) in the Greater Accra alone is 125,443 based on the 2000 Population and Housing Census, with between $300-550 individual costs of medications per annum.
He said whiles in the United States of America direct costs of medical services for BPH management was estimated to exceed US$1.1 billion annually.
The main predisposing factors for BPH were age and the presence of the testes in men, as well as some nutritional factors, oxidative stress, and is symptomised by difficulty in urinary flow, frequent urination, incomplete emptying of the bladder, painful urination and lack of voluntary control over urination among others.
Dr. Appiah stated that aside the removal of testes, there were two main categories of medical treatment for BPH: Alpha blockers like terazosin and alfuzocin, and 5a-reductase inhibitors such as finasteride and dutasterise, both of which have side effects.
The URO 500 however, has been proven to enhance urination in BPH patients without accompanying difficulty, significantly reduced symptoms in the first three weeks of treatment, relieve painful urination in patients within six hours and reduce prostate size within three months.
He noted that the drug held prospects for job creation and wealth creation as the price of croton seedling was GHC15.00 per unit, while the producer price of the plant stood at GHC250.00 per kilogram thus farmers cultivating the plant could make GHC1million per every four acres cultivated in two years.
“The biological properties and the clinical effects of URO 500 provide the necessary scientific bases for its promotion and use in the management of BPH,” he stated.
The Symposium was on the theme: ‘Plant Medicine for Health and wealth: Moving towards a Ghana beyond Aid’ sought to highlight the great potential of herbal and traditional medicine in the country.
Professor Augustine Ocloo, CPMR Executive Director in an interview with Ghana News Agency, said the product had the potential to alleviate the suffering of a significant proportion of Ghana’s population.
However, the Centre had a limited capacity to meet the demand for the product due to challenges with availability of raw materials and lack of appropriate equipment for mass production.
The issue of availability of raw material had been largely solved by the implementation of out-grower scheme for the plant, by raising the seedlings and supplying to farmers, who grow them and supply to the Centre.
“We’ve solved the issue of raw of materials; the problem we have now is the issue of machinery. It’s a capsule, so if we want to be efficient, we need a fully automated encapsulation machine and machines for the processing before encapsulation,” he stated.
He underscored the need for increased investment in the Centre, adding that they were developing a business plan to help them attract investors for their work.