MANILA -- A herbal supplement developed through a loan from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will be available by mid-August.

DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña, in an interview with the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Tuesday, said the supplement was made from "tawa-tawa" (Euphorbia hirta), but instead of drying the leaves, the manufacturer focused on its extracts.

The supplement was developed by Herbanext, a company that specializes on natural products such as vegetables and fruits. "They prioritize plants or fruits that are known to be associated with illnesses based on folkloric literature," he said.

Dela Peña added that Herbanext conducts studies on herbal plants that may cure headache, fever, problem in urination, among others.

"Tawa-tawa was proven to have anti-viral properties. They (Herbanext) made this into capsule or tablet," he continued.

The DOST chief emphasized that this is just a supplement, and not a medicine.

Herbanext have yet to conduct clinical trials for this supplement, which means testing this on humans.

"They're done with the pre-clinical trial. They used a mice to see (the supplement's) effect, and they found out that it has caused the platelet count to increase," dela Pena shared.

The product was already registered and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a supplement.

"It is not considered a medicine until it's not tested on humans. A supplement, if you talk about safety, is something that may not cure but would not cause harm. It is safe (to use)," Dela Peña explained.

Herbanext's supplement fights the dengue virus, and increases the platelet count. This should not be used to prevent dengue, he noted.

Meanwhile, Dela Peña confirmed that the DOST spent PHP8.3 million for the equipment used by Herbanext. He clarified, however, that the equipment was used also to develop other products, and that the company would return the money.

The supplement can be bought under the brand name Daily Apple.

According to dela Peña, Herbanext sells products under this brand, and indicate the plant used in the packaging. Thus, buyers should look for Daily Apple, with "tawa-tawa" written on the packaging.

This will be available initially at the Daily Apple stores in Quezon City, Bacolod, Cebu, Davao, and General Santos.

Dela Peña said Herbanext is currently coordinating with other drug stores to make this product available to more people. (PNA)