Yew clippings to make chemotherapy | Cancer Research UK
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Yew clippings to make chemotherapy

I have heard that there is a chemotherapy drug made out of yew tree. I have a yew tree and I am going to cut it down and wondered if there was anywhere that took them to use to make these drugs?

There are two chemotherapy drugs that were originally developed from Yew trees. One of them, docetaxel (Taxotere), was first made from the needles of the European yew tree. The other is called paclitaxel (Taxol) and was made from the bark of the Pacific yew tree. Both drugs can now be made synthetically in the laboratory, but the needles are still collected and used as part of the process of making the drugs. The collecting season tends to be from July to September. The firms that collect the clippings will often put enquirers outside these times on a register for the following year.

We know of two companies that collect and sell on yew clippings to the drug industry. One is called Limehurst. They are based in Chichester and have collected as far as Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Norfolk. Their telephone number is 01243 555 110. Please note – this company only collect yew clippings from hedges, not trees.

The other is Friendship Estates, based in Doncaster. Their telephone number is 01302 700 220. They will travel all over the country depending on the amount of the clippings and whether there are other people with clippings in the same area. This company will collect clippings from trees and hedges although they need to have one season's growth only. This means the tree or hedge has to have been cut last year. Please note – this company review each year whether they can collect clippings, so it is worth checking on their website to find out whether they are collecting this year. 

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Updated: 19 January 2015