A worker at the farm examines the cockroaches being raised there. Photo: Xinhua
A worker at the farm examines the cockroaches being raised there. Photo: Xinhua

A Chinese pharmaceutical firm claims it has developed drugs that can cure or relieve symptoms of respiratory and oral diseases, with essences extracted from one of the most loathed pests on the planet: American cockroaches.

The Sichuan-based Good Doctor Pharmaceutical Group has also been running a “cockroach farm” in the province and with artificial intelligence technology to regulate the temperature and humidity, the annual output has been ratcheted up to six billion creatures, which get mangled for processing.

The cockroaches are fed with corn and all the lights are dimmed at the farm to create a favorable environment for them to grow, according to the company, which markets pills and potions at about 50 yuan (US$7.54) per bottle. The potions are said to taste sweet.

The company claims to have raked in 4.3 billion yuan in profit selling its “cockroach” medications, using a model hailed as “from cockroaches to riches,” according to a Xinhua report.

A cockroach farmer. Photo: Xinhua
The exterior of the cockroach farm in China’s Sichuan province. Photo: Handout
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The March issue of the scientific journal Nature Communications carried a research paper by mainland scientist Li Sheng, who explored the “genomic and functional landscapes of developmental plasticity” in American cockroaches, and the 3.38-Gb genome and a consensus gene set are the underlying basis of its adaptation to urban environments and developmental plasticity.

The scientist claimed that his preliminary study had revealed that such a genome could have medical significance for treating human diseases and healing wounds.