New push for Vietnamese herbs to go further


According to Doctor of Science.Tran Cong Khanh, since the 90s of the last century, when Crinum Latifolium L., Amaryllidaceae family, was used as medicine to treat uterine fibroids and benign prostatic hypertrophy, people used to think that it was just a pure species and its effect would be the same wherever it washarvested. Up to present, many oriental medicine companies, traditional medicine doctors and patients who are using this plant as medicine also think so. But the reality is not like that, Dr. Pharmacist Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tram and her colleagues, through research on Crinum latifolium samples collected in Vietnam, discovered there was a special species, named 'Crila' contains many chemical compounds and biological effects that are different from the rest of the Crinum latifolium species (not to mention the samples that were mistaken for other species in the same family). This plant sample has been selected for research on cultivation, biological effects, chemical effects and developed on a large scale to obtain raw materials for the production of Crila, Crila Forte medicine of Thien Duoc Pharmaceutical Joint Stock Company.
In order for a product from Viet Nam to gain trust in the domestic market is abig challengealready, bringing medicinal products from Vietnamese natural herbs to compete in larger markets such as Europe and North America is extremely difficult. But Crila tablets with the main ingredient of dry extract of Crila have been able to achieve this in the US market and created a push for Vietnamese herbs to go further. To know more about why Crila is popular with foreigners, we had an interview with Ms. Sue McKinney - Director of Crila Health Company - Crila's distribution representative in the US.
Crila Health Company has distributed Crila products in the US, can you share with us about the opportunity of the cooperation between the two parties and why Crila and not another product ?
There are 3 essential points.
The first is the whole Crila story. The fact that in historic times, the right herb was so rare it was kept secret. It was reserved for the exclusive use of the Royal family. It was called “The Kings Herb”. I mean, what a great story.
The second is the remarkable Dr. Tram. When she learned the secret, she then devoted years of modern scientific research to bring us today’s Crila. And her integrity means that she is a scientist first, not just a greedy business person, driven by profit. So this doctor does not compromise safety or quality.
And third, there is the plant itself. Dr. Tram has created a proprietary plant. Now there are other species of Crinum that may look alike, but they don’t have the same properties, they won’t work the same in the body. We proved this by taking Crila plants to the U.S., to do DNA testing. And remember that the important research, the the clinical trials, were done on these plants.
Today, it’s increasingly challenging for companies to source high quality herbs. There is “accidental adulteration” and “economic adulteration.” Accidental is when species can look so much alike, that it’s easy for a supplier to mistake something. They don’t really know what they’ve got. You have to conduct botanical authentication testing on the unprocessed plant. By the time it’s processed, it’s too late, you can’t tell. Most companies may not have access to the unprocessed plants. It’s already processed by the time they get it. So they don’t always really know what’s in their products.
Then there is economic adulteration – which is when cheaper plants are intentionally substituted and sold for something else.
Now with Crila, it is a 100% vertically, closed system. Dr. Tram grows all of the Crila plants on her own plantations. There is no risk of getting a wrong species of Crinum. And so it goes from the farm, to the factory, to us. This is really unique about the Crila products, and is one reason we wanted to work with this doctor.
According to US FDA regulations, what are the basic conditions for products to be widely distributed and developed in the market? How long does it take for products like Crila to enter the US market?
The FDA’s first priority is safety. The laws state that you must follow the GMP regulations – Good Manufacturing Practices. And this body of laws applies equally to Dr Tram, the manufacturer, and me, the distributor. Now there is no set period of time in which this happens. But Dr Tram and I spent years of preparation in Vietnam, before we actually brought Crila for sale in the U.S. She sent her factory manager for GMP training in the US. Her factory is now registered as the manufacturer with the FDA in the U.S. And my company is required to conduct  independent testing of the products. – which we do. This testing and compliance is very expensive. And rigorous FDA enforcement means that many companies can no longer meet these requirements, and they’re going out of business. So Big Pharma would have you believe that the supplement industry of “unregulated” but actually it’s very strict.
How did people in the US response when Crila products were introduced in the market? Can you tell us about the initial treatment effect of Crila products for some diseases such as benign prostatic hypertrophy, uterine fibroids or perimenopausal disorders for patients in the US?
Let me tell you about R. N. R is a man who lives in California, in his 60’s,  and he was having trouble with BPH. He had tried pharmaceuticals, he tried other herbals, and nothing worked very well for him. When he tried Crila, after the first month, he felt a remarkable difference, and after 3 months he was sleeping through the night – not disturbing his wife, getting up anymore. And his doctor saw that his PSA scores were going down. 50% of American men by the time they are 50, start experiencing sypmtoms of BPH. And in the clinical trial conducted by the Ministry of Health in Vietnam, 89.18% of the men, had a good or very good result with Crila, with no side effects.
C.D  was a Canadian woman who started taking Crila when she and her husband were working in Vietnam. She had “many” uterine fibroid tumors. While she was taking Crila in Vietnam, they started to go down. Then she had a followup scan back in Canada, and phoned me with the result that her fibroids were completely gone. 25% of white women in child bearing years, and 35% of Asian women, suffer from uterine fibroid tumors. And no pharmaceutical shrinks them, but Crila does. In the clinical trial conducted by the Ministry of Health in Vietnam, after 90 days on Crila, 79.5% of the women had a good result on their uterine health with Crila.


Sue McKinney and Dr Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tram

Vietnamese people often have a saying " A good beginning makes a good ending ". Crila products with the recognition of the most difficult market in the world - the US - are considered as a new push for Vietnamese herbs to go further. After Crila, do you have plan to distribute other products from Thien Duoc company or another Vietnamese manufacturer in the US market?
Now we have many years of trust built up with Dr. Tram. She has proven her integrity. So we are actually eager to distribute her new products as they come on the market. Even the World Bank has recognized her dedication, and has offered her support to help bring her new products to market. I am talking to some other Vietnamese companies about bringing their products to market,  but they have to meet the same strict GMP regulations, like Dr. Tram has done. It’s not easy, but it is possible. So there’s so many traditional Vietnamese medicinal herbs that the world needs, so this is very promising for the future.
In order for Vietnamese herbal products to compete in the world market, what do you think Vietnamese businesses must pay special attention to?
Strict attention to quality. Now more and more companies in the US and the EU are asking me about the potential to source their high-quality organic herbs from Vietnam. These companies don’t want to buy from China anymore. That Chinese farmer, if he thinks he can get a higher yield, by sneaking into his fields at night, and spraying his crops with a toxic pesticide, he may do it.
In Vietnam, we’re only interested in working with growers, like Dr. Tram, that will not allow that kind of cheating. Because we can tell. It shows up when we test. And I live in Vietnam. I walk through your fields. If you cheat once, we will never buy from you. So you have to invest in GMPs, you have to conduct good clinical trials to FDA standards, to prove the safety and efficacy of your products. And if you do that, the future is very bright for Vietnam. The international market for natural products, is growing by $100 million dollars in the U.S. alone. There’s great opportunity for Vietnam to grab their market share, if it’s done right.