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India foils US firm’s biopiracy bid
In 2006, Natreon Had Filed Patent On Ashwagandha To Treat Stress, Insomnia
Kounteya Sinha | TNN
New Delhi: India has foiled a major biopiracy bid on the use of Ashwagandha — India’s wonder plant in the treatment of a range of illnesses including depression, diabetes, insomnia, convulsions and gastritis. On March 25, the European Patent Office (EPO) decided to withdraw American multinational company Natreon Inc’s patent applications on the plant’s medicinal properties after India submitted documented proof confirming how medicinal formulations using Ashwagandha were being used in India as far back as in the 12th century.
Called the Indian ginseng, Ashwagandha is used extensively in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani — India’s traditional systems of medicine.
But on July 27, 2006, Natreon filed patent applications in the EPO on the ability of Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) to treat or manage anxiety induced stress, depression, insomnia, gastric ulcers and convulsions. Shocked, India’s Traditional Knowledge Digital Library (TKDL) head Dr V K Gupta shot off a letter to EPO on July 6, 2009, submitting evidence to show Ashwagandha’s medicinal properties against cited conditions were long known in India.
Interestingly, India’s protest letter also contained 15 pieces of evidence and documents dating back to the 12th century. Excerpts from age-old texts of Ayurveda, Unani and Siddha where such formulations were mentioned were also attached. A letter from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to EPO in 2009 said, ‘‘The patent application number EP 1906980 titled ‘method of treatment or management of stress’ may kindly be referred to wherein treatment of anxiety induced stress, depression induced stress, sleep deprivation induced stress, thermic change induced stress and gastric ulcer induced stress with Withania somnifera has been claimed to be as novel... But in TKDL, several references are there, wherein Withania somnifera is used for treatment of depression, insomnia, gastritis, gastric ulcer and convulsions since long.”
Called Indian ginseng, Ashwagandha is used extensively in Ayurveda, Siddha and Unani On July 27, 2006, Natreon filed patent applications in the EPO on the ability of Ashwagandha India’s TKDL head shot off a letter to EPO showing Ashwagandha’s medicinal properties were long known in India