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Abstract

A vast number of over the counter drugs produced by pharmaceutical companies are derived from plants and animals. In 2005, 753 990 kg of medicinal pharmacy products worth 45,574,343 TT dollars were imported (C.I.F) into Trinidad and Tobago, while 16, 724 kg worth 2,008,228 TT dollars were exported (F.O.B.). In the Caribbean, there has been a long tradition of preparing ‘bush teas’ using indigenous and exotic plants for medicine. The Chemistry/ Food and Drugs Division, Ministry of Health, Trinidad and Tobago is responsible for monitoring and regulating the control, manufacture, importation, storage and disposal of drugs (pharmaceuticals) and herbal preparations. Establishing a sustainable medicinal plant industry in Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) could stimulate agricultural diversification and enhance socio-economic development. This paper provides an overview of the status of agriculture in T&T, some global and traditional trends vis-à-vis medicinal plant usage. It identifies some key elements in the development of a medicinal plant industry, such as identification of medicinal plants, Good Agricultural and Good Manufacturing Practices, identification of active health ingredients and intellectual property rights.

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