An extraordinary diabetes drug confined to papers

A herbal composition which would have provided relief to millions of people affected by Type II diabetes remains confined to papers left behind by its late inventor. Patented back in September 2006, the herbal medicine derived from kadamb leaves may not be available for patients for a long time to come as the family is left with no funds for pre-clinical trials after years of experimentation with the medicine.

The dream of Suresh Sharma of Jaipur who invented the formula for diabetes cure from Cadambine and dihydrocinchnine alkaloids derived from kadamb leaves after toiling for 15 long years was to make it available for the common man at a reasonable price. After his sudden death in 2008, his children have been moving from pillar to post trying to catch the attention of the authorities and the pharmaceutical industry on the medicinal composition, but in vain.

During his lifetime Mr. Sharma, who was termed a maverick by his family and society, had tested the medicine on over 1,000 patients besides himself. The results were positive and there were no side-effects. In the case of chronic diabetic patients one tablet a week for 4-10 months had brought about the result while in beginners medication was required only once a month.

The late inventor, explaining the working of the herbal formula to The Hindu soon after he got patent (Patent No.197279) and international classification (A 61 K 35/78) from WTO, had said that the alkaloids from the kadamb leaves removed the insensitivity from insulin receptors in the human body and regulated production of insulin.

Mr. Sharma was no scientist but a person possessed by a desire to achieve a goal. In the process, he went bankrupt, had to sell his house and became almost the laughing stock of society. This was till he gained a patent from the Controller-General of Patents, India. But his demise left the dream incomplete.

While struggling to establish the medicine, Mr. Sharma even fought about the protection of kadamb (Mitragyna parvifolia), a tree associated with the Krishna legends which finds ample mention in “Soordasa” in Garg Samhita. In 2004 he filed a writ in the High Court to stop cutting of the tree, found in abundance in Rajasthan’s Bharatpur and adjoining areas in Uttar Pradesh’s Agra, Mathura and Vridnavan.

The anti-oxidant, anti-inflammatory qualities of the tree have been known for centuries but a medicine from them for diabetes was a breakthrough.

“This appears to be a losing battle. We have no money to carry out expensive pre-clinical trials of the medicine. The industry has not responded to our repeated requests for sponsorship,” says the inventor’s son Alekh Sharma. He has left his job in Merchant Navy to carry on with his father’s mission.

“My father had tried it with the then President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam as well. When the President visited Jaipur in March 2007, my father got an audience with him. Appreciating the work, Dr.Kalam also volunteered to write to various government departments, including Science & Technology and Health & Family Welfare,” Mr. Sharma notes. The family tried with some of the leading business houses in the country and some international pharmaceutical firms as well.

“They asked us to carry out the clinical trials ourselves before they could take up market production,” he says.

Even as the country reports more patients of Type II diabetes every year, an effective medicine for the disease remains without any takers.

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