Economic Botany

, Volume 39, Issue 3, pp 231–240 | Cite as

Potential consequence of plant extinction in the United States on the current and future availability of prescription drugs

  • Norman R. Farnsworth
  • Djaja Doel Soejarto


This paper attempts to answer the question: What is the dollar value that can be placed on a single plant species now growing in the United States, should it become extinct? Based on available botanical and prescription survey data and data on global studies of plants as a source of new drugs for human use, the value of a single species is calculated to be $203 million, and the total value of plant species growing in the United States that may become extinct by the year 2000 AD is calculated to be about $3,248 billion.


Economic Botany Community Pharmacy Diosgenin Psyllium Noscapine 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Literature Cited

  1. Anonymous. 1980. Herb sales up in health food market. Herbalgram, Feb., p. 1.Google Scholar
  2. Anonymous. 1981. The Lilly Digest. Eli Lilly and Co., Indianapolis, IN.Google Scholar
  3. Ayensu, E. S., and R. A. DeFilipps. 1978. Endangered and Threatened Plants of the United States. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.Google Scholar
  4. Cronquist, A. 1981. An Integrated System of Classification of Flowering Plants. Columbia Univ. Press, New York.Google Scholar
  5. Douros, J. D., and M. Suffhess. 1980. The National Cancer Institute’s natural products antineoplastic development program. Recent Results Cancer Res. 70: 21–24.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  6. Farnsworth, N. R., and A. S. Bingel. 1977. Problems and prospects of discovering new drugs from higher plants by pharmacological screening. In H. Wagner and P. Wolff, ed, New Natural Products with Pharmacological, Biological or Therapeutical Activity, p. 1–22. Springer-Verlag, New York.Google Scholar
  7. —, and R. W. Morris. 1976. Higher plants-the sleeping giant of drug development. Amer. J. Pharm. 148: 46–52.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Gossel, T. A., and J. R. Wuest. 1981. Over the counter laxatives. U.S. Pharmacist 6: 20, 22-25, 83.Google Scholar
  9. Kartesz, J. T., and R. Kartesz. 1980. A Synonymized Checklist of the Vascular Flora of the United States, Canada, and Greenland. Univ. North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, NC.Google Scholar
  10. Melville, R. 1978. As quoted in Ayensu and DeFilipps above, p. 1.Google Scholar
  11. Schultes, R. E. 1972. The future of plants as sources of new biodynamic compounds. In T. Swain, ed, Plants in the Development of Modern Medicine, p. 103–124. Harvard Univ Press, Cambridge, MA.Google Scholar
  12. Tippo, O., and W. L. Stern. 1977. Humanistic Botany. Norton, New York.Google Scholar
  13. Tyler, V. E. 1979. Plight of plant-drug research in the United States today. Econ. Bot. 33: 377–383.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© New York Botanical Garden 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norman R. Farnsworth
  • Djaja Doel Soejarto
    • 1
  1. 1.Program for Collaborative Research in the Pharmaceutical Sciences, Health Sciences CenterUniversity of Illinois at ChicagoChicago

Personalised recommendations