Friday, March 9, 2012
Lisa Conte’s dream of tapping rainforest plants to create human drugs may be about to emerge from the legal jungle.
Crofelemer, a highly purified form of red, sappy bark latex from an Amazonian tree, could be approved in early June by the Food and Drug Administration to treat diarrhea in AIDS patients on antiretroviral drug therapy. Her Napo Pharmaceuticals Inc., based in San Francisco, has said the drug eventually could hit hundreds of millions of dollars in annual sales.
Approval would seemingly cap a 20-year journey wending through a handful of partnership deals, failed trials and a bankruptcy filing by Conte’s earlier company, Shaman Pharmaceuticals Inc
But Napo and Conte will have to cut through legal filings — in large part instigated by Napo — for the company to bring crofelemer to market.