Home > Current Events > Year 2007 March
A review of stories making the headlines.

Singapore fines traditional Chinese medicine shops over bear bile products
International Herald Tribune (http://www.iht.com), 1 March 2007

The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) has fined 14 retailers for illegally selling traditional Chinese medicine made with or claiming to contain bile from endangered bears, authorities said Thursday. The bitter, green bile extracted from the gallbladders of endangered bear species usually found in China, have long been used to treat eye, liver and other ailments in Chinese traditional medicine. It said it also discovered that a dozen others were offering medicines said to contain bear extracts that turned out to be fake. The shops were each fined between 500 and 5,000 Singapore dollars.

Sharp price cut ordered on traditional Chinese medicine
Xinhuanet (http://www.cctv.com/), 1 March 2007

China will lower the average cost of over 240 traditional Chinese medicines by 20 percent, the country's top economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), announced on Wednesday. The price cut mainly focuses on the frequently-used traditional Chinese drugs, covering over 1,000 categories. This is the 18th cut in the cost of drugs since the government resumed price controls over some drugs in September 2005, in an attempt to control spiralling health care costs. Some drugs will be slashed by as much as 81 percent, saving consumers about 5 billion yuan, said NDRC. The price cuts directed by NDRC will take effect on March 15.

China, France to jointly develop traditional Chinese medicines
Xinhua (http://news.xinhuanet.com), 1 March 2007

The governments of China and France signed a landmark cooperative treaty here Thursday to set new standards for TCM and develop better treatments for fighting AIDS and cancer. The two countries will cooperate in academic and clinical TCM research, set new standards for TCM products in line with Western medical practice and developing new TCM products, said the document signed by Chinese Health Minister Gao Qiang and French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy. China has now signed 26 cooperative agreements on TCM with foreign countries or international medical organizations, and more than 70 medical treaties with foreign countries including cooperation on TCM.

Traditional Chinese medicine company listed on the NYSE
People's Daily Online (http://english.people.com.cn), 15 March 2007

Tongjitang, a well-established Chinese medicine brand dating back to 1888, has recently begun trading on the New York Stock Exchange. "This is a historic day for Tongjitang as we join leading companies from around the world on the New York Stock Exchange," said Wang Xiaochun, chairman and CEO of Tongjitang Chinese Medicines Company, the first Chinese medicine company listed on the Wall Street stock exchange. Tongjitang is a specialty pharmaceutical company focusing on the development, manufacturing, marketing and selling of modernized traditional Chinese medicine in China. The initial public offering by Tongjitang follows in the footsteps of several recent successes by China-based private companies on the NYSE.

Traditional Herb Fights Drug-Resistant Malaria
Voice of America (www.voanews.com), 15 March 2007

The artemisia plant has been used in TCM for centuries, and is known as Qinghao. It is now in great demand for its malaria-fighting properties íV especially the ability to attack malaria that is resistant to all other medication. One particular variety, Artemisia annua L., sometimes known as annual wormwood (or sweet sagewort) contains a drug, artemisinin, recognized as one of the most effective anti-malaria medications. The World Health Organization (WHO) is encouraging farmers to produce more of the plants to ensure a sustainable supply of artemisinin. WHO recognizes Artemisia's special properties, and has issued guidelines for cultivating the plant and harvesting its medicinal ingredient. The quantity and quality of artemisinin that an Artemisia plant produces can vary greatly, according to climate, geography and other factors.

TCM has 'world potential'
China Daily (www.chinadaily.com.cn), 22 March 2007

A new report on TCM's potential to prevent and treat major infectious and chronic diseases has been released. The document, "Outline for Innovative Development of TCM" was co-published by 16 central government ministries and other official bodies. "Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), with its peculiar way of observing life and disease, has the greatest potential for original innovations among all the other academic disciplines in the country," Liu Yanhua, vice-minister of science and technology, said. To encourage more innovation, China will invest more money in the area and encourage international cooperation in the TCM research field. And to give TCM a better footing on the world market, "a system of standards" would be established for medical treatments, medicine production, teaching, scientific research and market entry.

Alternative therapy degree attack
BBC News (http://news.bbc.co.uk), 22 March 2007

There are over 60 complementary medicine courses taught in universities. UK universities are teaching "gobbledygook" following the explosion in science degrees in complementary medicine, University College London Professor David Colquhoun said. He urged watchdogs to act, as he considered that complementary medicine was not based on scientific evidence. The Prince's Foundation for Integrated Health, a group set up by Prince Charles to promote complementary therapy, said there was increasing evidence alternative therapies worked and where there was no proof it did not necessarily mean that there would never be and that the enormous demand from the public for complementary treatments means that we need more research into why and how patients are benefiting".

TCM to use scientific help to expand market
Xinhua (http://news.xinhuanet.com), 23 March 2007

The Chinese government is to fund scientific research into TCM to improve standards and to study new applications in order to expand its appeal abroad as an effective alternative to Western treatments. In a development outline on TCM, jointly prepared by 16 ministries, the government said that in the next 13 years, it would concentrate scientific support for traditional medicine as it might become "the breakthrough of Chinese innovation on the world stage". "Science might solve the key problems of traditional medicine's development in modern times, so as to complement the ways we view and treat diseases," the outline said. It also set a goal to help traditional healing methods and herbal medicines gain a footing on overseas "mainstream" health care markets by 2020.

American Oriental Issues Comments on Latest NDRC Price Reform
Trading Markets (http://www.tradingmarkets.com), 26 March, 2007

American Oriental Bioengineering, Inc. recently issued a statement commenting on the National Development and Reform Commission's changes to price ceilings on 278 traditional Chinese medicine products. The company noted that the NDRC, in the latest round of price reforms, decreased average price ceilings by 15%, and by up to 81% in some cases. The company CEO, Tony Liu, appreciated the fact that the price ceiling for ShuangHuangLian injection powder was raised, and considered it testimonial to the high quality of American Oriental's product.

Traditional Chinese medical beliefs still relevant in Beijing oral health
Medical News Today (www.medicalnewstoday.com), 27 March 2007

Traditional Chinese medical beliefs continue to have an impact on oral health in Beijing, China. Over a two-month period, Jacqueline Hom, a dental student at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine gathered data from 67 respondents, including patients, TCM professionals, and dental practitioners. Each of the respondents used the concept of shang huo (rising heat) to describe oral health problems. When patients had symptoms of shang huo, such as tooth pain, gingival swelling, and a sore throat, they sought 'purging fire' herbal medicine from the pharmacy or visited the dentist. TCM doctors regarded the concept of huo (fire) as either excessive or deficient and described the consequences of patients taking inappropriate medication for huo. Chinese dentists often teach themselves TCM concepts and treatments to better treat patients who come in saying "I am shang huo." Ms Hom's findings were presented at the 85th General Session of the International Association for Dental Research.

Compiled By:
Jennifer Eagleton, BA, MA (Asian Studies), Integrated Chinese Medicine Holdings Ltd.