Plants, Science and Sustainability

Dr Hlupheka Chabalala

The global market for health supplements is growing. Consumer interest in healthy living and differentiated research on active ingredients are propelling the industry into a new frontier. These trends and more were evident at the recent Afriplex Technical Symposium. By Abby Vorster, editor of SA Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Review

Centred on the theme ‘Harnessing Nature’s Best’, the symposium took place on 12 September at the JSE Conference Centre in Sandton, Johannesburg. The programme featured local and international speakers who shared compelling information on biodiversity, natural ingredients, regulatory developments, market trends, APIs and the more contentious subject of Cannabis and Cannabidiol.

Biodiversity and scientific capacity are key elements in directly addressing poverty, unemployment and inequality in our country. This is according to Dr Hlupheka Chabalala of the Department of Science and Technology, who discussed the Indigenous Knowledge (IK)-Based Bio-Diversity Innovation Programme with symposium delegates.

Riaan Botes of Arista Health with Afriplex’s responsible pharmacist, Robert Longrigg

This programme features six platforms: African Natural Medicine; IK-Based Cosmeceuticals; IK-Based Nutraceuticals; Health Infusions (Beverages); Technology Transfer and Manufacturing; and Marketing and Commercialisation. All six are used in conjunction with modern technology to empower rural communities to become thriving societies. The programme beneficiates indigenous knowledge and brings the spirit of ubuntu into science to eradicate poverty.

Powerful actives and ingredients

Afriplex offers a wide range of botanical and API phyto extracts. Lauren McMillan, part of the company’s dynamic pharmaceutical marketing team, highlighted Afriplex GRT as part of its API basket. Regarded as developmental first in South Africa, Afriplex GRT is based on the naturally occurring flavonoid compounds found in rooibos. It was developed in partnership with South African Medical Research Council and Agricultural Research Council to target specific metabolic syndrome-related dysfunctions in the body.
McMillan emphasised the incredible evidence-based effectivity of this unique ingredient for products aimed at diabetic end-users and those suffering from metabolic syndrome.

Folicin A/T is the first API phyto extract from Afriplex to assist with male pattern baldness. The extract’s phyto chemicals have been shown to be effective in reducing oxidative stress and as a 5a-reductase inhibitor for use in the treatment of hair loss, BPH and androgenic alopecia. Developed in collaboration with the CSIR, the efficacy of Folicin A/T topical has been proven in vivo.
In addition to producing extracts, Afriplex is the local agent for Activ’Inside. This innovative French company offers three novel actives for nutraceutical applications. Memophenol is proven for its brain memory benefits, SkinAx2 for improving beauty from within and Safr’Inside for mood and emotional balance.

Scenes from Afriplex’s 2018 Technical Symposium

Regulatory developments

Claims, regulations and compliance were underlined by Wayne Robinson, director of business development at Afriplex.
While a single complementary medicine or health supplement is yet to be registered, Robinson said various positives have come from the regulatory developments.

‘The industry has come a long way in terms of pharmacovigilance and quality standards. It’s also noteworthy that brands are using compliant manufacturers and the correct ingredients for their products.’

Despite the challenges associated with the regulations, it is still possible to launch new health supplements in South Africa. However, Robinson advises brands to take caution with claims.

Lauren McMillan

‘The South African Health Products Authority has adopted a risk-based approach when it comes to claims,’ he explains. ‘The risk level of a product is determined by the type of claim and the evidence on which it’s based. If you can’t prove the claim, don’t make it and don’t market off label.’

Brands whose products are good enough, shouldn’t have to market off label. This is why it’s crucial for marketing and regulatory teams to work together to ensure compliance.