Testing Laboratories
Answered by: Richard Alan Miller
Question from: J. Robert Burull
Posted on: August 15, 1999

To refresh your memory I am the bald-bold echinacea student and sometime researcher from Stoughton, Wisconsin. We last broke bread in Madison, Wisconsin.

I need some information on testing labs; i.e., the best three, discrepencies among testing labs, flaws, etc. I just need this information in 3 to 4 paragraphs. Also, I am looking for current consumer profiles: i.e., U.S versus Europe, Pacific Rim countries, etc.

Most of my farms use Alpha Labs, because of it’s near location to various farm ventures on the west coast:

* Alpha Chemical & Biomedical Laboratories, Inc., 1365 Redwood Way, Petaluma, California 94954. (707) 792-7300.

Others I have used include:

* Dr. Yuan Chun Ma, Canadian Phytopharmaceutical Corp., Unit 6, 13520 Crestwood Place Richmond, B.C., V6V 2G2. (604) 303-7782.

* Bronwyn Hughes, Plant Bioactives, 95 S. Mountain Way Drive, Orem, Utah, 84058. (801) 226-3002.

* Dr. Kinsington/Dr. Mark Lang, Industrial Laboratory. (303) 287-9691.

There are a number of them in your neck of the woods, but I don’t have their name and addresses handy. If important, I will dig for them. The primary problems with these various laboratories is that the Certificate of Analysis generated can vary without exception in their readings - from one sample to many on any given day.

What this means is that protocols and methodology are somewhat suspect in the industry at large. Further, the primary problems are with reference materials received from Germany. Who knows the accuracy of those reference materials, and how they might vary from one year to the next?

The industry at large needs to be challenged. There is some talk about corruption and "payola" type management, slanting sales to preferred sources and middlemen. While used by most pharmaceutical houses, almost everyone knows that the data is essentially meaningless, only addressing FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) requirements (at a minimum).

Such studies as ash content will give some indication on how dirty something might be (with dirt). But, when measuring such things as parthenolides, they become meaningless (oxidation). When challenged, most pharmaceutical houses are at a loss to say what the active ingredients are for St Johnswort, for example. So why then do they require these expensive accompaniments?

See where this can go? The industry at large is in a real mess. Further, if you want your Certificate of Analysis within one week, the charges can be as much as 3 times a normal two-week lead-time turn-around. Discounts are given for volumes, of course. None of it really ever means anything, but is required for most sales. It’s stupid policy, and is typical of government requirements becoming bogus.

I’m uncertain what you need in terms of country profiles. China is bullish right now for sales, but they have no money to pay for their desires. Letters of credit are not the best way to assure receipt, either. The world-wide pharmaceutical industry is stagnate right now, waiting for "what’s new?" in the marketplace. None are interested in conducting their own research and finding products to market as standards for treatment.

As a result, important concepts and products are being lost to the sift of what delivers chemistry to the consumer. This meant that 48 manufactures rushed out last year and put St Johnswort on the shelves with improper claims. The FDA had them all removed, and the "K-Mart"-like shopper moved to a new item. Hence, the demand for "what’s new?" in the marketplace.

No one is doing their homework, primarily chasing the "almighty dollar." As a result, most products do not deliver chemistry, therefore disappointing the public, and their current interest in natural source remedies. If some of the larger pharmaceutical house actually did their homework correctly, sales, demand, and quality would be back. This, of course, in the face of deeper consumer awareness.

Italy and Germany lead the pack in these directions right now, with North America bringing up the rear. We are way behind in our homework aspects, and may lead to serious problems to new growers. I would love to have a business card that read "PALADIN ‘Have Gun, Will Travel.’"

Some of these manufacturers, buyers, and even testing labs need serious due diligence. Who is our watchkeeper right now? Hauser Chemical? This industry is in deep trouble, and these issues need to be addressed right now. If not, it will be "business as usual," with Germany and Switzerland having woke up 12 hours before we do.

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