Hau Giang Pharmaceutical Joint Stock Company (DHG) has announced the result of clinical tests on a medicine named Naturenz that can be used to treat patients over 18 years old carrying hepatitis B and C viruses, and having liver disorders, the Saigon Times Daily reported on August 19.

Naturenz is synthesized from a number of natural enzymes available in latex of papayas and other extracts of bitter gourds, eggfruits, radish and garlic. The drug is considered to possess high biological value in prevention and treatment of hepatotoxicity.

Naturenz earlier had been tested on 600 war veterans exposed to dioxin in wartime with positive results recorded. After 12 weeks of taking the drug, these people had their liver enzymes returned to normal level.

According to associate doctor Tran Chi Liem, who used to serve as Deputy Minister of Health, Naturenz is among few medicines invented and produced by Vietnam. The Institute of Biotechnology has been doing research on this antidote since 1986.

Thanks to the wide availability of common vegetables and fruit and low labour costs in the country, the drug is seen as affordable for prevention and treatments of those suffering liver diseases.

“It is a good scientific research topic consistent with Vietnam’s strategic development of the pharmaceutical industry,” the Daily quoted Liem as saying.

During a meeting held in Ho Chi Minh City in July in response to World Hepatitis Day, a representative from the World Health Organisation (WHO) released statistics showing that 11 in every 100,000 Vietnamese people are infected with hepatitis virus - a “silent killer”.

According to the WHO, viral hepatitis – a group of infectious diseases known as hepatitis A, B, C, D and E – affects millions of people worldwide, causing acute and chronic liver diseases and killing around 1.4 million people each year.

In Vietnam, it is estimated that 10-25 percent of the population are infected with hepatitis B virus, while 0.4-4.1 percent of the total are infected with hepatitis C.

Viral hepatitis is rated among the diseases needing close supervision by the Health Ministry. The ministry recently set up a national-level advisory group to draw up guidelines on the treatment of hepatitis C and expand the vaccination rate of hepatitis B.-VNA