Since the NIRPROMP research was funded by DOST and a collaboration between UPM and PCHRD, which is a sectoral council of DOST, all intellectual property (IP) is owned and managed by DOST.
Therefore, in order to protect IP. own lagundi-based cough syrup formula, in 1999 DOST applied for a utility model with the Philippine Intellectual Property Office (IP Philippines) for a plant-based pharmaceutical composition based on lagundi. The utility model was granted and issued in February 2001.
Licensing and marketing
Dr. Neila Maramba, founding member of NIRPROMP (Photo: NIRPROMP) Although NIRPROMP had been responsible for R&D and clinical trials for lagundi-based cough drops, the person responsible for coordinating and facilitating the commercialization it was the PCHRD.
When the lagundi-based cough drop formulation was ready for marketing, PCHRD organized several informational forums to gauge the interest of local pharmaceutical companies. Many of them expressed interest, and so in 1993 the PCHRD developed and announced a system of non-exclusive licensing agreements.
- Under this agreement, the licensee has to pay an upfront amount for the technology and royalties that is calculated by subtracting from the gross receipts the value added tax and the typical volume discount that applies to large pharmacy chains. .
- All payments and royalties are due to DOST, as the founding entity of PCHRD and NIRPROMP.
- Each licensee is responsible for registering products derived from it with the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (then called the Food and Drug Administration).
An important part of the license is to provide the results of clinical studies that demonstrate the safety and efficacy of the drug. Without them, the drug cannot be legally sold in the Philippines.
The first licensee of the technology to manufacture the lagundi-based tablets was Herbafarm, a Philippine pharmaceutical company that used lagundi grown on its own farms and in a manufacturing facility located in a compound owned by DOST.
Herbafarm launched its lagundi-based products in 1994
Other licensees soon appeared, including Pascual Laboratories (Pascual), a large pharmaceutical company in the Philippines that would become the most profitable licensee of lagundi-based technology.
Pascual’s product, made from the lagundi-based formulation of PCHRD, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 1996 and is still for sale in the Philippine pharmaceutical market.
- Although the lagundi-based cough medicine formulation was successfully commercialized, it initially had to overcome many difficulties to enter the market.
- At that time, for many medical professionals and for some members of the general public, herbal medicines were not therapeutically effective.
- To counter this problem, Pascual launched a marketing campaign to improve the image of lagundi-based herbal treatments and cough medicines.
The company’s first strategy was to promote the drug directly to physicians, especially those working in the Rural Health Units (RHU). The RHUs are small clinics funded by the Government and located in rural areas, so the bias towards the use of lagundi-based cough medicines was very good, as these had been developed within the framework of a government-funded program.
In addition, in 1977 Pascual presented the drug at the International Exhibition of Inventions, New Techniques and Products held in Geneva (Switzerland), in order to ratify its effectiveness. The drug was awarded the R&D silver certificate, and back home the company used this recognition intensively in advertising and raising public awareness, helping to change the minds of medical professionals and skeptical consumers.