Skip to main content

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

Abstract

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.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Literature Cited

  • Anonymous. 1980. Herb sales up in health food market. Herbalgram, Feb., p. 1.

  • Anonymous. 1981. The Lilly Digest. Eli Lilly and Co., Indianapolis, IN.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ayensu, E. S., and R. A. DeFilipps. 1978. Endangered and Threatened Plants of the United States. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

    Google Scholar 

  • Cronquist, A. 1981. An Integrated System of Classification of Flowering Plants. Columbia Univ. Press, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  • Douros, J. D., and M. Suffhess. 1980. The National Cancer Institute’s natural products antineoplastic development program. Recent Results Cancer Res. 70: 21–24.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • —, and R. W. Morris. 1976. Higher plants-the sleeping giant of drug development. Amer. J. Pharm. 148: 46–52.

    PubMed  CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Gossel, T. A., and J. R. Wuest. 1981. Over the counter laxatives. U.S. Pharmacist 6: 20, 22-25, 83.

    Google Scholar 

  • 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 

  • Melville, R. 1978. As quoted in Ayensu and DeFilipps above, p. 1.

  • 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 

  • Tippo, O., and W. L. Stern. 1977. Humanistic Botany. Norton, New York.

    Google Scholar 

  • Tyler, V. E. 1979. Plight of plant-drug research in the United States today. Econ. Bot. 33: 377–383.

    Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Farnsworth, N.R., Soejarto, D.D. Potential consequence of plant extinction in the United States on the current and future availability of prescription drugs. Econ Bot 39, 231–240 (1985). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02858792

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02858792

Keywords

  • Economic Botany
  • Community Pharmacy
  • Diosgenin
  • Psyllium
  • Noscapine