Key drug ingredients face extinction

Pharma may need to keep a closer eye on the endangered species list. Demand for drugs is among the culprits pushing thousands of plants to the verge of extinction, according to a new study. Many of those plants are used in prescription drugs--and they have no substitutes.

Consider Taxol (paclitaxel), the world's most widely used cancer drug. It's derived from the bark of yew trees; six trees are needed for a single dose. And it's defied all attempts at commercial synthesis. Wild yew populations across the globe have suffered from demand for the drug. And that's just one example.

The solution? Natural areas need to be conserved as "gene banks" for these key species, and the plants should be cultivated, too.

- read the Financial Times article

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