Schwabe Statement on Article by Snitz et al, JAMA 2009

KARLSRUHE, Germany--(BUSINESS WIRE)--“The known beneficial effects of the special Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761® on human cognitive function have been confirmed in a number of recent scientific publications. The current paper, describing secondary analyses of data from a previously published study, is methodologically so weak that it is of limited relevance” states Prof. Michael Habs, Director of Dr. Willmar Schwabe GmbH & Co. KG, Karlsruhe.

According to the analysis by Snitz et al even the placebo group exhibited scarcely any cognitive decline. Despite their high average age of about 80 years, participants showed only a very low rate of worsening of cognitive function over the course of the study. This rate was in fact almost 7 times slower than in the reference base used by the authors to plan the study. This is conceded by the authors themselves “The rates of change we observed in the 3MSE also were small and not clinically significant”. It is, however, self-evident that EGb 761® can only show a benefit when cognitive deficits such as concentration difficulties or memory problems actually manifest themselves.

“This study would have had to run for at least a further 10 years before any relevant mental decline would have been observed” commented Dr. Guenter Meng, Head of Schwabe Research & Development.

A further critical point is that during roughly 4 out of the average 6 years overall treatment period, cognitive performance measures were simply determined via a very blunt dementia-screening model. More specific cognitive testing only started after more than 500 participants had already left the study. Indeed, by the time of completion, the study was actually lacking data from over one third of the participants.

Yet another serious shortcoming was that, of those participants remaining in the study, only somewhat over half (60%) were actually taking their tablets (EGb 761® or placebo respectively). But any test-medication can only have an effect if it is actually being taken. Exactly that very point was recently demonstrated by researchers at the University of Oregon in a study of Ginkgo biloba for the prevention of cognitive decline in elderly patients (Dodge et al 2008).

EGb 761®, marketed in Germany as Tebonin® and internationally under various brandnames, is a patented Ginkgo biloba extract, developed by Schwabe. It is the world’s leading Ginkgo extract and generally recognised as the world’s best researched herbal medicine.

Dr Willmar Schwabe GmbH & Co. KG is a global leader in the research and development as well as manufacturing of herbal medicines, headquartered in Karlsruhe, Germany. For more than 140 years, Schwabe has been dedicated to providing patients and health care professionals with clinically proven herbal medicines and natural health care solutions. Today, the group comprises more than 20 subsidiaries and joint ventures around the world. Schwabe products are sold in over 60 countries.

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