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Shaman Entering Herbal Dietary Supplement Business.
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Shaman Pharmaceuticals, Inc., has announced that it has ceased its pharmaceutical operations and will focus on its botanical division. According to Lisa Conte, president and chief executive, the decision was made after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) informed the company that it would recommend additional clinical trials be completed before the company submitted an NDA for its first drug, to treat chronic diarrhea in people with AIDS. The company thought, based on previous discussions with the agency, that its data package, including a pivotal trial completed in December of 1998, would be sufficient for filing an NDA. The South San Francisco based company is now entering the rapidly growing herbal dietary supplement business through its division called Shaman Botanicals. It will also license or sell the drugs it had in development to other companies.

Shaman Pharmaceuticals' methodology for research and product development involves collaboration with traditional healers in the tropics to identify plants that have been historically used as medicines and for pharmaceuticals, then isolating their key ingredients. Its lead drug, isolated from a South American plant, was shown to be highly effective for travelers diarrhea in Phase II clinical trials conducted in Mexico, Jamaica, and Venezuela in addition to its beneficent activity in treating chronic diarrhea for people with AIDS. The company was also developing drugs in the treatment of diabetes and systemic fungal infections.

Conte commented, "It is only because of the 10 years we have spent developing an ethnobotanically based pharmaceutical business that we are now so well positioned to enter the botanicals market. We have leveraged our proprietary ethnobotanical approach to identify novel product candidates with the potential for near-term revenue generation."

Managing the botanicals business will be Conte and Loren Israelsen, President of the LDI Group, who will serve as interim CEO. -- Barbara A. Johnston

[Shaman Says it is Exiting Drug Business. New York Times. Feb. 2, 1999.

Israelsen LD. Personal communication. April 24, 1999.

King S. Personal communication. April 4, 1999.]

Article copyright American Botanical Council.

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By Barbara A. Johnston