Soya-bean lecithin – Lecithinum ex soya (Glycine max (L.) Merr.)

Latin name of the genus: Lecithinum ex soya
Latin name of herbal substance: Glycine max (l.) merr.
Botanical name of plant: Herbalref.com
English common name of herbal substance: Soya-bean lecithin

Latin name of the genus: Lecithinum ex soya
Botanical name of plant: Glycine max (L.) Merr.
English common name of herbal substance: Soya-bean lecithin

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

1.1. Description of the herbal substance(s), herbal preparation(s) or combinations thereof

Herbal substance(s) Not applicable

Herbal preparation(s)

Soya lecithin is phospholipids obtained from seeds of Glycine max (L). Merr. Soya bean is an annual herbaceous plant in the family Fabaceae (legume or bean family) that is cultivated. The fruit contains 1-4 ovoid to spherical seeds of variable colour (Bruneton, 1999). The main phospholipids are phosphatidylcholine (average 76% in lecithin), phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylinositol (Blumenthal et al., 2000).

The following herbal preparations have been reported as constituents of medicinal products on the market in the EU/EEA Member States (for further information see section 2 “Data on medicinal use”):

For oral use:

1.De-oiled phospholipids from soya bean (soya lecithin)

2.De-oiled phospholipids from soya bean (soya lecithin) (Lecithinum ex soya)

Soya lecithin contains (3-sn-phosphatidyl) choline, phosphatidylethanolamine and phosphatidylinositol. Pharmacopoeial grade soya lecithin must contain a minimum 20% and maximum 31.6% phosphatidylcholine calculated on the dried substance (Blumenthal et al., 2000).

3.De-oiled, enriched phospholipids from soya bean (soya lecithin) calculated as 73-79% (3-sn- phosphatidyl) choline (Sojae Lecithinum). Enriched extract with 73-79% (3-sn-phosphatidyl) choline. The extract also includes phosphatidylethanolamine (maximum 7%), phosphatidylinositic acid (less than 0.5%), oil (2-6%), and vitamin E (0.2-0.5%). The range includes both production and analytical variances (Blumenthal et al., 2000).

In addition to the herbal preparations reported as constituents of medicinal products, there is a broad range of dietary soya products on the market, including whole soya foods, soya flours, textured soya proteins, soya protein concentrates, soya protein isolates, isoflavone rich soya proteins, isoflavone extracts from the soya seed or soya germ, isolated isoflavone mixtures, pure genistein, lecithin products of varying purity and soya oils. The composition of the bioactive compounds differs markedly between products and is affected by processing methods. Only references where a medicinal use is described or indicated, and where the extracts have been properly described, are taken into account in the assessment report.

Combinations of herbal substance(s) and/or herbal preparation(s) including a description of vitamin(s) and/or mineral(s) as ingredients of traditional combination herbal medicinal products assessed, where applicable.

Not applicable

1.2. Search and assessment methodology

Scientific databases: PubMed, Embase, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews

A PubMed search on soybean found 38,193 articles in February 2015. Thus, to be able to find relevant articles among this high number of citations, additional database searches were performed combining the following search terms: lecithin, phosphatidylcholine, phospholipid, polyenylphosphatidylcholine, polyunsaturated phosphatidylcholine, Essentiale, Lipostabil, extract, soya, soybeans, glycine max, cholesterol, hypercholesterolemia, lipids, LDL, HDL, hyperlipidemia, liver, hepatic, hepatitis, hepatotoxic, exhaustion, stress, tension, anxiety, hypersensitivity, allergy, immunology, drug interactions, humans. The citations found were manually screened and all English articles deemed relevant were accessed and included in the assessment report. Further references found in lists of references were included, if deemed relevant. An additional search in PubMed was performed in May 2016 combining the following search terms: soy and lecithin; soya and lecithin; soybean and lecithin; soyabean and lecithin.

Books, acts of law and regulations (see list of references in Annex): PDR for Herbal Medicines (LaGow ed. 2004); Martindale The Extra Pharmacopoeia (Reynolds ed., 1989); Hager’s Handbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis (Hänsel ed., 1993); Lehrbuch der Pharmakognosie und Phytopharmazie (Steinegger, Hänsel, 1972); Herbal Medicine (Barnes ed. 2007); Expanded Commission E Monographs (Blumenthal ed. 2000); The Review of Natural Products (der Marderosian ed. 2015).

Search engines used: Google

Medical databases: Micromedex, HerbMed, MedlinePlus, ESCOP, WHO

Toxicological databases: TOXLINE, HSDB. LactMed

Data from EU and non-EU regulatory authorities: EMA Scientific Guidelines; HMPC Public Statements; FDA Federal Register; EFSA Journal; British Pharmacopeia 2015 (updated); U.S. Pharmacopeia National Formulary (USP 38-NF 33, 2015); NIH National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health; Health Canada monographs.

2. Data on medicinal use

2.1.Information about products on the market

2.1.1.

Information about products on the market in the EU/EEA Member States

Information on medicinal products marketed in the EU/EEA

Table 1: Overview of data on soya lecithin (de-oiled phospholipids) obtained from marketed medicinal products

This overview is not exhaustive. It is provided for information only and reflects the situation at the time when it was established.

Information on relevant combination medicinal products marketed in the EU/EEA

Not applicable

Information on other products marketed in the EU/EEA (where relevant)

Not applicable

2.1.2. Information on products on the market outside the EU/EEA

Not applicable

2.2. Information on documented medicinal use and historical data from literature

Soya lecithin is used in the food and pharmaceutical industry for technical purposes, because it represents an easily digestible emulsifier of natural origin (e.g. margarine production and pharmaceutical emulsions). In medicine, it has been used in general physical weakness and to strengthen the nerves. Lecithin has also been used in certain diseases of the liver and fat metabolism (Steinegger and Hänsel, 1972).

In Hagers Handbuch der Pharmazeutischen Praxis, soya lecithin is reported to have been used in mild dyslipidaemia, in particular mild hypercholesterolemia, if dietary measures alone are not sufficient. Average daily dosage is 3.5 g. Traditionally, it has been used for the relief of physical weakness, concentration difficulties and to strengthen the nerves (Hänsel, 1993).

According to the Commission E, soya lecithin has historically been used in case of poor nutrition, rickets, anaemia, diabetes and tuberculosis. Furthermore, soya lecithin has been used to treat hypercholesterolemia, neurologic disorders, and liver disorders, including fatty liver and toxic liver damage. The Commission E has published two positive monographs on soya lecithin (Blumenthal et al., 2000).

1.Soy lecithin (lecithinum ex soya)

In 1988 the Commission E approved soya lecithin extracted from soya beans and its preparations in effective dosage for moderate disturbances of fat metabolism, especially hypercholesterolemia if dietary measures are not sufficient.

Available dosage recommendations are the following:

Preparations from soya beans for oral intake containing total phospholipids in their natural mixture composition corresponding to 3.5 g (3-sn-phosphatidyl) choline/day.

2.Soy phospholipid with 73-79% (3-sn-phosphatidyl) choline

In 1994 the Commission E approved the internal use of soya phospholipid with 73-79% (3-sn- phosphatidyl) choline (soy lecithin, enriched extract) for:

less severe forms of hypercholesterolemia in which diet and other non-medical interventions (e.g. exercise, weight control) have not shown results, and

improvement of subjective complaints, such as loss of appetite and feeling of pressure in the region of the liver in toxic nutritional liver disease and chronic hepatitis; prerequisite to the therapy of chronic liver disease is the recognition and avoidance of noxious agents – in the case of liver disease, alcohol abstinence. In chronic hepatitis adjuvant therapy with phospholipids of soya beans is only indicated when improvement of symptoms is discernible from other therapy.

Daily dosage is 1.5-2.7 g phospholipid from soya bean with 73-79% (3-sn-phosphatidyl) choline in a single dose.

It is summarised in the Review of Natural Products, that lecithin is used for its emulsifying properties in the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries. Proposed pharmacological use of lecithin includes treatment for hypercholesterolemia, neurologic disorders, manic disorders, and liver ailments (The Review of Natural Products, 2014).

2.3. Overall conclusions on medicinal use

Based on the information obtained from Member States and literature, medicinal use of soya lecithin has been reported in the EU/EEA at least since 1966. According to the market overview the soya bean preparation in Table 2 fulfils the criteria of medicinal use throughout a period of at least 30 years, including at least 15 years within the EU/EEA.

Table 2: Soya bean preparation that fulfil the criteria of medicinal use throughout a period of at least 30 years, including at least 15 years within the EU/EEA considered acceptable for the EU herbal monograph

Soya lecithin has been used for the relief of temporary fatigue and sensation of weakness since 1966, i.e. traditional medicinal use according to Directive 2004/24/EC is considered fulfilled for this indication.

Soya lecithin as a medicinal product has also been used for more than 30 years in the EU/EEA for the treatment of mild hypercholesterolemia if diet and other non-pharmacological actions (e.g. physical training, weight reduction) alone are insufficient. However, the decision to initiate treatment of hypercholesterolemia requires a medical investigation which provides the medical doctor with the information necessary for the decision. Monitoring of the treatment effect and the necessary periodic re-evaluations also requires medical resources and expertise. Since diagnosis, initiation and monitoring of therapy for mild hypercholesterolemia require medical expertise this indication is not considered appropriate for self-medication. This indication cannot be considered acceptable for a traditional herbal medicinal product.

Authorised products with the indication mild hypercholesterolemia can be found on the EU market for more than 10 years. The clinical efficacy of soya lecithin, based on Article 10a of Directive 2001/83/EC (well-established use), is evaluated in section 4. “Clinical data”.

Furthermore, soya lecithin has been used to improve subjective complaints e.g. loss of appetite, feeling of pressure in the right epigastrium due to hepatic damage in the EU/EEA at least since 1976. However, hepatic damage is not considered appropriate for self-care and this indication should not be considered acceptable for traditional herbal medicinal products.

Authorised products with the indication ‘improvement of subjective complaints e.g. loss of appetite, feeling of pressure in the right epigastrium due to hepatic damage’ can be found on the EU market for more than 10 years. The availability of clinical evidence for soya lecithin to establish recognised

efficacy and an acceptable level of safety based on Article 10a of Directive 2001/83/EC (well- established use), is evaluated in section 4. “Clinical data”.

3. Non-Clinical Data

The amphipathic phospholipids make up the lipid bilayer found in all cell membranes and influence numerous cellular functions (Gundermann et al. 2011). The non-clinical safety has been reviewed by the Commission E in 1988 and 1994 (Blumenthal et al., 2000).

3.1. Overview of available pharmacological data regarding the herbal substance(s), herbal preparation(s) and relevant constituents thereof

3.1.1. Primary pharmacodynamics

In decreased performance such as fatigue and sensation of weakness

No data found. However, one experimental study indicates that soybean lecithin may improve memory impairment in aged rats (Suzuki et al., 2001).

Hypercholesterolemia

In the scientific literature, there are some publications on the hypercholesterolemic properties of dietary soya lecithin in animals. Although this assessment report has focused on soya lecithin used as medicinal product some other publications are also mentioned.

Adding soya lecithin (3.4%) to the diet reduced non-HDL cholesterol in both cynomolgus monkeys and F1B hamsters (Wilson et al., 1998). Also in Rhesus monkeys, lecithin supplementation to food reduced plasma cholesterol (Wong et al., 1980).

Reduction of LDL cholesterol as well as an increase in the level of HDL cholesterol was observed in rats feed a hypercholesterolemic diet in combination with lecithin (2.5 or 0.7%) (Jimenez et al., 1990). However, 6% soya lecithin had no effect on the serum cholesterol level in rats fed on a diet containing 0.5% cholesterol although lecithin compared to corn oil reduced cholesterol absorption (O’Mullane and Hawthorne, 1982).

Soybean lecithin reduced total plasma cholesterol without a decrease in HDLC in guinea pig fed by cholesterol diet (O’Brien and Corrigan, 1988).

Hepatic damage

Gundermann et al. reviewed in 2011 that cytoprotective properties of lecithin have been corroborated in 25 in vitro studies and in 145 in vivo experiments in 8 different animal species. In these studies, lecithin has primarily been administrated to avoid hepatic toxicity induced by chemicals (e.g. carbon tetrachloride) or drugs (e.g. cyclosporine A) (Gundermann et al., 2011).

Fatty liver with cholangitis with bile duct proliferation, cholestatsis and fibrosis were induced in rabbits by atherogenic diet for 18 months. For rabbits receiving additional feeding of soya lecithin (3%) for an additional 4 months only some cholangitis with minimal fibrosis was observed (Hunt and Duncan, 1985).

Lecithin had both preventive and curative effect on ethanol-induced alteration on liver weights in rats (Das and Vasudevan, 2006). Pretreatment with lecithin also had a positive impact with reduction of D-galactosamine induced hepatotoxicity in rats (Raj et al., 2011).

3.1.2. Secondary pharmacodynamics

No data found.

3.1.3. Safety pharmacology

No data found.

3.1.4. Pharmacodynamic interactions

No data found.

3.1.5. Conclusions

Relevant experimental studies on soya lecithin to support the proposed indication are limited since most experimental studies have poorly described extracts, inadequate posology or lack of relevant control groups. However, none of the reported pharmacological studies constitute any cause for safety concerns.

3.2. Overview of available pharmacokinetic data regarding the herbal substance(s), herbal preparation(s) and relevant constituents thereof

Absorption

The absorption rate following oral administration within 24 h is higher than 90% in animals (Gundermann et al., 2011). The Commission E describes that phospholipids are degraded to lysophophatidylcholine in the intestine and absorbed primarily in this form (animal data). In the gut wall, the phospholipids are in part re-synthesised (Blumenthal et al., 2000).

Distribution

Phospholipids are primarily incorporated into the liver, with minor incorporation into other organs such as the gastrointestinal tract, spleen, lungs, muscles, kidneys and brain (Gundermann et al., 2011).

In plasma, phosphatidylcholine and other phosphoglycerides are tightly bound to lipoproteins or albumin, or to both (Blumenthal et al., 2000).

Metabolism

Phosphatidylcholine and other phosphoglycerides are degraded through a series of so-called phospholipases to fatty acids, choline and glycerine metabolites to be in turn re-synthesised in the liver and other organs (Blumenthal et al., 2000).

Elimination

Renal excretion after a single dose in the first eight days was 17.4% of the administered dose in rats and 17.7% in rhesus monkeys. The excretion in the faeces was low, with 3–8% of the dose excreted in the first 5–7 days in rats. Hence, a considerable part of the phospholipids are thought to be incorporated in the cell membrane of different cells (Gundermann et al., 2011).

3.3. Overview of available toxicological data regarding the herbal substance(s)/herbal preparation(s) and constituents thereof

3.3.1. Single dose toxicity

In the Commission E monograph on lecithin enriched extracts from soya bean, doses of phosphatidylcholine of up to 10 g/kg bw in mice and rats and 4.5 g/kg bw in rabbits given intravenous, intraperitoneally, and orally in a single dose are reported to be non-toxic (Blumenthal et al. 2000).

Phosphatidylinositol from soya lecithin at doses of up to 2 g/kg of was administrated once orally to male and female rats. There were no deaths or any clinical sign in any group throughout the observation period (Honda et al., 2009).

3.3.2. Repeat dose toxicity

The “no-effect” dosage over 48 weeks administration to rats are above 3.75 g/kg bw/day, as reported in the Commission E monograph on lecithin enriched extracts from soya bean. Following repeated intravenous application over 12 weeks in rats, the lowest systemic toxic dosage was between 0.1 and 1 g/kg bw and lowest local toxic dosage at over 1 g/kg bw. In a four weeks study in dogs, the lowest toxic dosage was above 0.1 g/kg bw (Blumenthal et al., 2000).

Phosphatidylinositol from soya lecithin was repeatedly administered orally to male and female rats at daily doses of 100, 300 and 1,000 mg/kg for 13 weeks. Neither death nor any toxicological signs during the administration period and no changes related to the test substance administered were observed in any group with regard to body weight, food consumption, ophthalmoscopy, hematology, blood biochemistry, necropsy, organ weights or histopathology. Based on these results, the no-observed-adverse effect level (NOAEL) was considered to be 1,000 mg/kg/day for male and female rats (Honda et al., 2009).

3.3.3. Genotoxicity

No data have been found for soya lecithin. Genotoxic evaluation of phosphatidylinositol from soya lecithin has been carried out using the bacterial reverse mutation test (Ames test) and in vitro chromosome aberration test in compliance with the OECD guidelines for testing chemicals. In the Ames test, the strains Salmonella typhimurium TA100, TA1535, TA 98 and TA1537 and Escherichia coli WP2uvrA were used. The concentration range tested in Ames test with and without metabolic activation was 313-5000 µg/plate. In the in vitro chromosome aberration test cultured Chinese hamster lung fibroblast cells (CHL/IU) were used. The concentration range tested in the in vitro chromosome aberration test with and without metabolic activation was 313-5000 µg/ml. The results showed neither increases of revertant colonies nor chromosome aberration (Honda et al., 2009).

3.3.4. Carcinogenicity

No data found.

3.3.5. Reproductive and developmental toxicity

In the Commission E monograph on lecithin enriched extracts from soya bean, doses of up to 3.75 g/kg bw in pregnant animals, animals embryos, and animal neonates showed no pathology of toxicity to reproduction. The lowest teratogenic or embryo-toxic dosage in rats following oral and

intravenous administration was more than 1 g/kg bw. In rabbits teratogenic dosages were greater than 1 g/kg bw for oral administration and greater than 0.5 g/kg bw in intravenous administration (Blumenthal et al., 2000).

Two reproductive and developmental toxicity studies on dietary soya lecithin in rats have been found in the scientific literature (Bell and Lundberg, 1985; Bell and Slotkin, 1985). In the study by Bell and Lundberg, pregnant rat dams and offspring were exposed to a 5 or 2% soya lecithin preparation or a control diet. The authors report that sensorimotor deficits (reflex righting and swimming development) were seen in the 5% soya lecithin preparation group. Later, animals exposed to lifelong 5 or 2% soya lecithin preparations were hypoactive, had poor postural reflexes, and showed attenuated morphine analgesia. In another study by Bell and Slotkin, rats exposed perinatally to dietary commercial soya lecithin preparation showed alterations in sensorimotor development and brain cell maturation (latencies for righting responses measured on postnatal days 1-4 and negative geotaxis measured on postnatal days 5-8). In adulthood, morphine analgesia was reduced in the treated animals.

3.3.6. Local tolerance

The allergic potency of soya have been evaluated and presented in the ‘Public statement on the allergenic potency of herbal medicinal products containing soya or peanut protein’ (EMA/HMPC/138139/2005) (see section 5.3 Adverse events, serious adverse events and deaths).

3.3.7. Other special studies

Not relevant

3.3.8. Conclusions

Non-clinical information on the safety of soya lecithin is limited. No toxicological concerns are raised regarding the reported studies.

Genotoxicity and carcinogenicity have not been fully evaluated. Since the genotoxic potential of soya lecithin has not been fully evaluated, a European Union list entry cannot be recommended from a non-clinical point of view.

Reproductive and developmental toxicology have not been fully evaluated. In two publications on dietary soya lecithin in rats, the authors report developmental toxicity. Since the composition of soya lecithin might differ between food and medicinal products, the relevance of these studies for soya lecithin as active ingredient in medicinal products on the EEA market is not known. As there is limited information on reproductive and developmental toxicity, the use during pregnancy and lactation cannot be recommended.

3.4. Overall conclusions on non-clinical data

The available documentation (information from literature, products available on the market and valid registrations within the EU) show a long-standing and on-going medicinal use of soya lecithin in the EU. During this time, no signals of safety concern have been identified (see also section 5 Clinical Safety/Pharmacovigilance).

Safety during pregnancy and lactation has not been established. In the absence of sufficient data, the use during pregnancy and lactation is not recommended.

4. Clinical Data

4.1. Clinical pharmacology

4.1.1. Overview of pharmacodynamic data regarding the herbal substance(s)/preparation(s) including data on relevant constituents

Phospholipids make up the lipid bilayer found in all cell membranes and influence numerous cellular functions. Polyunsaturated fatty acids are basic constituents of the phospholipids, influencing membrane fluidity and modulating the activities of membrane-bound enzymes, carriers and receptors. Together with cholesterol and bile acids, phospholipids form mixed micelles in the gallbladder. In the human body phospholipids form parts of the lipoprotein particle complexes, such as very low density lipoprotein (VLDL), low density lipoprotein (LDL) and high density lipoprotein (HDL). The main task of lipoproteins is the transportation of lipophilic cholesterols and triglycerides in the bloodstream (Gundermann et al., 2011).

Soya lecithin is claimed to have beneficial effects in hypercholesterolemia by reducing total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C). The underlying mechanism(s) have not been elucidated (van Ee, 2009).

4.1.2. Overview of pharmacokinetic data regarding the herbal substance(s)/preparation(s) including data on relevant constituents

Absorption, distribution, metabolism and elimination of dilinoeylphosphatidylcholine (DLPC) have been reported in a study on five patients after single oral administration of 1 g of DLPC labelled with 3H in choline and 14C in the two linoleic acid residues. Based on data from faecal excretion and renal elimination measured up to 7 days, it was estimated that more than 90% was absorbed, either intact or after intestinal hydrolysis to lysophosphatidylcholine. Peak plasma 3H levels were reached in 6 to 24 hours at about 20% of the total administered dose, whereas 14C maximum was reached in 4 to 12 hours at about 28% of the total administered dose. A large portion of the radioactivity from labelled oral phosphatidylcholine appeared in phosphatidylcholine of plasma lipoproteins and red blood cells (Zierenberg et al., 1982).

4.2. Clinical efficacy

In addition to the herbal preparations reported as constituents of medicinal products, there is a broad range of dietary soya products on the market. The composition of the bioactive compounds differs markedly between products and is affected by processing method. Therefore, only soya lecithin preparations included in medicinal products on the EEA-market are evaluated in this section.

4.2.1. Dose response studies

No relevant clinical study has been found.

4.2.2. Clinical studies (case studies and clinical trials)

Soya lecithin in decreased performance such as fatigue and sensation of weakness

There are no studies found concerning soya lecithin and effects on performance such as fatigue and sensation of weakness.

Soya lecithin in the treatment of mild hypercholesterolemia

For the data base search on soya lecithin in hypercholesterolemia, all clinical studies found, whether controlled or not, have been included. However, only studies on soya lecithin products as medicinal products on the EEA market were further evaluated. Studies on soya lecithin with unknown composition as well as unclear or irrelevant posology were excluded. Also, studies on healthy volunteers, patients on dialysis, patients with diabetes and patients with alcoholic fatty liver diagnosis were excluded (Kirsten et al., 1989; Kirsten et al., 1994). The included studies are presented in Table 3.

For the assessment on clinical efficacy of soya lecithin in hyperlipidemic treatment, the EMA document ‘Guideline on clinical investigation of medicinal products in the treatment of lipid disorders’ (EMA/CHMP/748108/2013) is considered appropriate to use. The guideline recommends:

A relative reduction in low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels is acceptable as a primary efficacy endpoint in patients with primary hypercholesterolemia, provided that claims in the label are restricted to a lipid lowering effect

For medicinal products modifying lipid parameters other than LDL-C, demonstration of a positive clinical outcome in terms of morbidity of mortality is required

Studies for the evaluation of efficacy or safety of a new lipid-modifying agent are mainly performed in patients with primary hypercholesterolemia and mixed hyperlipidaemia with moderate to very highly elevated LDL-C levels

When specifically claimed, patients with familial hypercholesterolemia (heterozygous and homozygous) should normally be studied in separate clinical trials, based on their cholesterol levels and clinical genetic characteristics

All measurements should be performed under standardised, fasting conditions following a dietary lead-in period with or without wash-out of appropriate duration

Comparative studies with accepted therapy are expected for evaluating the efficacy and safety of newer lipid-modifying drugs

Duration will depend on their expected outcome but should last at least a minimum of 3 months (for known mechanisms of action) and preferably up to 12 months (for others)

The guideline also discusses that blood lipid levels may be affected by other clinical conditions such as diabetes. If included, patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus should be represented in adequate numbers that will permit sub-group analysis and also evaluation of consistency with the overall results of the study.

Soya lecithin in subjective complaints due to hepatic damage

For the data base search on soya lecithin in hepatic damage, all clinical studies found, whether controlled or not, have been included. However, only studies on soya lecithin products as medicinal products on the EEA market were further evaluated and presented in table 4. The diverse study populations and results are inconclusive and the conditions not relevant for a TU product. The relevance of the studies presented in table 4 is therefore limited.

Table 3: Clinical studies on soya lecithin containing medicinal products on the EEA market in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia

Assessment report on Glycine max (L.) Merr., lecithinum EMA/HMPC/220598/2016

Table 4: Clinical studies on soya lecithin containing medicinal products with hepatic indications on the EEA market

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4.3. Clinical studies in special populations (e.g. elderly and children)

No clinically relevant study in special populations has been found.

4.4. Overall conclusions on clinical pharmacology and efficacy

There are several clinical studies on the cholesterol lowering effect of soya lecithin, however, very few studies have been published during the last 20 years. In particular, there are only two studies on soya lecithin medicinal products found in the literature (Kesaniemi et al., 1986; ter Welle et al., 1974). Both studies are small, open and exploratory, and do not support a cholesterol lowering effect of soya lecithin. The current requirements for well-established medicinal use according to Article 10a of Directive 2001/83/EC is considered not fulfilled.

The effect of soya lecithin with hepatic indications has been studied in patients with different liver diseases such as chronic hepatitis (Niederau et al., 1998; Jenkins et al., 1982), hepatic failure (Singh and Prasad, 1998), alcoholic fatty liver (Turecky et al., 2003) and alcoholic liver disease (Lieber et al., 2003). Generally, the composition of the products used in these studies are not well described. Furthermore, none of the hepatic indications are relevant for self-treatment, the criteria for traditional herbal medicinal products can therefore not be considered fulfilled.

In the scientific literature, there are no clinical studies on soya lecithin in the improvement of subjective complaints e.g. loss of appetite, feeling of pressure in the right epigastrium due to hepatic damage. Hence, Article 10a of Directive 2001/83/EC (well-established use) is not considered fulfilled.

5. Clinical Safety/Pharmacovigilance

5.1. Overview of toxicological/safety data from clinical trials in humans

No data found.

5.2. Patient exposure

Aside from market presence and data from studies, there are no concrete data concerning patient exposure.

Phospholipids are mainly obtained by food consumption (0.5-3 g/day from food) (Blumenthal et al., 2000).

5.3. Adverse events, serious adverse events and deaths

Dietary soya products are known to cause allergic reactions including severe anaphylaxis in persons with soya allergy. Patients with known allergy to peanut protein carry an enhanced risk for severe reactions to soya preparations. The allergic potency of soya and peanut has been evaluated in the ‘Public statement on the allergenic potency of herbal medicinal products containing soya or peanut protein’ (EMA/HMPC/138139/2005).

In addition to allergic reactions, the information obtained from the market overview of medicinal products containing soya lecithin includes reports on gastrointestinal disorders (such as soft stool and diarrhoea) and skin reactions (such as urticaria, exanthema, and pruritus).

5.4. Laboratory findings

No data available.

5.5. Safety in special populations and situations

5.5.1. Use in children and adolescents

According to the information obtained from the market overview, soya lecithin used for the relief of temporary fatigue and sensation of weakness, has not been used in children under 12 years of age.

5.5.2. Contraindications

Cross-allergy has been reported for patients with known allergies to other legumes. IgE-cross reactions are also reported for patients with birch pollen allergy and associated food allergies (EMA/HMPC/138139/2005).

In the information obtained from the market overview of medicinal products containing soya lecithin, the antiphospholipid syndrome is contraindicated in some products on the market. However, in guidelines on the current treatment of antiphospholipid syndrome there are no recommendations that soya lecithin should be avoided for these patients (Lim, 2013; Tuthill 2009).

5.5.3. Special warnings and precautions for use

If the symptoms worsen during the use of the medicinal product, a doctor or a qualified health care practitioner should be consulted.

5.5.4. Drug interactions and other forms of interaction

No interaction studies have been performed.

5.5.5. Fertility, pregnancy and lactation

Safety during pregnancy and lactation has not been established. In the absence of sufficient data, the use during pregnancy and lactation is not recommended. No fertility data are available.

5.5.6. Overdose

No case of overdose has been reported.

5.5.7. Effects on ability to drive or operate machinery or impairment of mental ability

No studies on the effect on the ability to drive and use machines have been performed.

5.5.8. Safety in other special situations

Not applicable

5.6. Overall conclusions on clinical safety

Based on limited data from clinical experience, mainly cases of gastrointestinal discomfort and hypersensitivity reactions have been reported. The frequencies of the undesirable effects are not known.

Soya lecithin used for the relief of temporary fatigue and sensation of weakness, has a long standing medicinal use in the EU. If patients with known hypersensitivity to soya bean, peanut or other plants of the Fabaceae (legume) family and to birch pollen are excluded, a traditional use is considered safe if administration follows the instructions as specified in the monograph.

6. Overall conclusions (benefit-risk assessment)

Soya lecithin as a medicinal product has been used for more than 30 years in the EU/EEA for the treatment of mild hypercholesterolemia if diet and other non-pharmacological actions (e.g. physical training, weight reduction) alone are insufficient. However, the decision to initiate treatment of hypercholesterolemia requires a medical investigation which provides the medical doctor with the information necessary for the decision. Monitoring of the treatment effect and the necessary periodic re-evaluations also requires medical resources and expertise. Since diagnosis, initiation and monitoring of therapy for mild hypercholesterolemia require medical expertise this indication is not appropriate for self-medication. This indication cannot be considered acceptable for a traditional herbal medicinal product.

There are only two clinical studies on soya lecithin medicinal products found in the literature. Other studies have been excluded and not assessed. The included studies are small, open and do not support a cholesterol lowering effect of soya lecithin. The current requirements for well-established medicinal use according to Article 10a of Directive 2001/83/EC is considered not to be fulfilled.

Furthermore, soya lecithin has been used to improve subjective complaints e.g. loss of appetite and feeling of pressure in the right epigastrium due to hepatic damage, in the EU/EEA at least since 1976. Hepatic damage is not appropriate for self-care and this indication cannot be considered acceptable for traditional herbal medicinal products. In the scientific literature, there are no clinical studies on soya lecithin in the improvement of subjective complaints e.g. loss of appetite and feeling of pressure in the right epigastrium due to hepatic damage. Hence, Article 10a of Directive 2001/83/EC (well-established use) is considered not fulfilled.

Soya lecithin has been used for the relief of temporary fatigue and sensation of weakness, throughout a period of at least 30 years, including at least 15 years within the EU/EEA, i.e. traditional medicinal use according to Directive 2004/24/EC is considered fulfilled. If patients with known hypersensitivity to soya bean, peanut or other plants of the Fabaceae (legume) family and to birch pollen are excluded, a traditional use is considered safe if administration follows the instructions as specified in the monograph. The use in children under 12 years of age has not been established due to lack of adequate data.

Non-clinical data on pharmacology and safety of soya lecithin is limited. Genotoxicity, carcinogenicity, reproductive and developmental toxicology have not been fully evaluated. Since the genotoxic potential of soya lecithin has not been fully evaluated, a European Union list entry cannot be recommended from a non-clinical point of view. As there is limited information on reproductive and developmental toxicity, the use during pregnancy and lactation cannot be recommended.

Therapeutic area for browse search: Fatigue and weakness.

Annex

List of references