Sabinsa Corporation, an NRI-owned New Jersey-based herbal API and nutraceuticals
manufacturer who is in the eye of a storm for patenting "new uses" of herbs
which are claimed to be traditional knowledge in India, has 25 more such patent
applications pending with US patent office, including skin lightening property of white
"These are new
uses discovered through rigorous R&D. It is very much in India's interest to have IPR
protection and fetch a high price for these products," said Dr Muhammed
Majeed, chairman and managing director, Sabinsa. All these patent applications
have been made by Sabinsa along with Sami Labs, a Bangalore-based EOU, promoted by
The Rs 70-crore Sami
Labs supplies standardised herbal extracts, fine chemicals, cosmeceutics, probiotics etc
exclusively to Sabinsa. The patents are helping Sami Labs to increase its export earnings,
said Dr Majeed.
The new filings for
US patents by Sabinsa and Sami Labs include an IPR claim on anti-tyrosinase activity of a
derivative of curcumin from turmeric powder which is white in colour. Dr Majeed claims
that though cosmetic use of turmeric is known in India, the white derivative does not
stain the skin, as the yellow curcumin does.
Sabinsa's bulk tetrahydrocurcumin is currently being sold to a clutch of cosmetics
manufacturers in US. Besides, a patent application is pending for a cost-effective
synthetic drug for treating African sleeping sickness, a neurological disorder.
Currently, the drug
for this fatal disease - Efflornithine - is supplied by WHO,
but its price, $ 6,000-7,000 per kg is prohibitive. The alternative product from Sabinsa's
would cost just 10% of cost of Efflornithine.
"We spend 9% of
the income in R&D. Sami Lab's R&D centre at Peenya has about 75
scientists, 50 of which in the area of herbal products," said Dr Majeed. Sami
conducts clinical trials and toxicological evaluations of its products to meet the US-FDA
regulatory standards. Post-marketing surveillance too is being done as per the FDA
Sami is planning to
set up a Rs 20 crore facility for formulation production at Peenya in Karnataka. The funds
have been tied up through internal accruals and through loans from SBI and Exim Bank, said
Dr Majeed. The company has manufacturing units located at Kunigal, Bangalore, Mysore and
Among the eight US patents Sabinsa currently own, the most controversial is the patent
pertaining to method of preparation of a forskohlin composition and its use for promoting
lean body mass and treating mood disorders. Sabinsa's patented product 'Forslean'
penetrated into the US
cosmetics nutraceutical market very quickly.
Two other patents in
connection with use of piperine as bioavailability enhancer have also been alleged to be
untenable by a few domestic herbal drug manufacturers who offer their similar products at
steeply lower prices.