NUTRICEUTICALS, nature medicines, herbal medicines, organic cures and pharmanutrients are just some of the many, many names and words coined to market food supplements, in an attempt to entice would be buyers of these products.

From the looks of it, with massive trimedia-radio, TV and print- outlets, it has become a multi-million if not billion peso business industry in our country.

It's not surprising that celebrities and popular stars have been used to endorse the product or make a public testimony on the supposed efficacy (read: effectiveness) of the product whose fee for such purpose could fetch a king's ransom. And if we note the frequency by which these advertisements are aired, shown or broadcast, one can guess, the owners of these food supplements must be raking in a lot of money and smiling gleefully to the banks.

The author fervently hopes, not at the expense- literally and figuratively- of Juan and Juana de la Cruz. A brief look at past history shows that the Generics Law, which was passed during the incumbency of late President Corazon Aquino - opened a lot of opportunities for the ordinary Filipino to avail of effective and safe medicines at very democratic prices, with the bonus of having their say in choosing the brand or name of the medicine. Riding on the crest of the popularity of such law, in early 1990s, even the DOH came out publicly in support of the use of generics medicine, short of actively advertising them. The flood gates were flung open and before we know it, there was now a mushrooming of so many generic medicines, much to the joy and confusion of the Filipino patient. The confusion and eventually worry, stemmed from anecdotes and stories- some verified, some just hearsays- that such and such "generic" medicine did not provide its therapeutic claim or medicinal value. Notwithstanding that scenario, still the Filipino patient was free to buy his own choice of medicines- branded or generics, with his/her own story to tell and share.

Probably, at this juncture, it would be good if we share with our readers, the so-called birth of a medicine.

An innovator drug or original drug is the product of much research and experiments, a lot of multi-center trials which started with animals, then humans- first healthy volunteers, then later, qualified patients- until the safety and efficacy of the new drug is approved by highly stringent certifying bodies like US FDA, EMEA in Europe and also our own Philippine.

So don’t be surprised if you hear that some medicines widely used in Europe, is not used in the US, or that that matter, even if neighboring Canada approves of its use. Even after the new medicine reached consumer-patients market, still there is what is called post-marketing surveillance, to follow up its activity- efficacy and safety.

Obviously, millions of money have been put into this new drug, thus the maker has a Patent for their medicine - respected by other drug firms that no copy cats should flood the market. It's only when the drug has its patent off, that now many drug firms make their own brand using the original generic name of the said medicine, thus now, there are numerous generic names of the first original medicine.

Next Week: How Did Food Supplements Come About?