Home > Current Events > Year 2008 January
A review of stories making the headlines.

New licensing system set for traders of Chinese medicine
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong),, 4 January 2008

A licensing system for TCM traders aimed at improving standards in the industry and safeguarding public health will soon come into effect in Hong Kong. The new rules require retailers or wholesalers of Chinese herbal medicines and manufacturers or wholesalers of proprietary Chinese medicines to obtain a licence or face a fine of up to HK$100,000 and two years' jail. There will also be import and export controls on almost 40 types of Chinese herbal medicines and proprietary Chinese medicines. Retailers should hang their licences or certificates in a clearly visible place. He called on the public to report unlicensed traders to the Chinese Medicine Council. The Chinese Medicine Ordinance states that traders have to comply with a series of practising guidelines regarding their premises, standard of hygiene, storage, facilities and personnel qualifications to obtain a licence.

New laws to govern alternative medicine
The Times, 5 January 2008

Aromatherapy, homoeopathy and other popular complementary therapies are to be regulated for the first time under a government-backed scheme to be established in 2008. The new Natural Healthcare Council, which is modelled on the General Medical Council and other similar statutory bodies, will be able to deregister incompetent practitioners. It will also set minimum standards for therapists to ensure they are properly qualified. Patients will also be able to complain to the council about practitioners. Although the scheme will initially be voluntary, it is hoped that all practitioners will be forced to join or lose business as the public will use the register as a guarantee of quality. The council will register only practitioners who are safe, have completed a recognised course, are insured and have signed up to codes of conduct. The Council will consist of independently appointed lay people with a clear division between it and the professional bodies representing the therapies.

TCM trial aimed to help prevent diseases
Shanghai Daily, 14 January 2008

Shuguang and Yueyang TCM hospitals in Shanghai Two recently announced a pilot program of a TCM-based health advice service to prevent diseases rather than treat them. If successful, the service will be expanded to more district-based hospitals and neighbourhood health centres. The new service will provide health checkups and diagnosis using TCM and give treatments where necessary. Every patient will have a health database and will be given an individualized therapy consisting of direction concerning diet, exercise such as tai chi and jogging, psychology and sleep as well as medical methods mostly focusing on TCM such as acupuncture, herbal soup and Western medication if needed.

Huge project to boost Chinese drug development
Chemistry World, 15 January 2008

The Chinese government has agreed a multibillion-yuan drug development funding programme to boost innovation in its generics-dominated pharmaceutical sector. The Key New Drug Creation and Development Programme was approved by the State Council late last year. The first batch of the funding will be 4 billion yuan in the first five years, and an additional 7 billion yuan over the following 10 years. The number of drug development projects to be funded has not been decided and the funding will be categorised in accordance with different types of major diseases. In each of the designated disease categories, there will be projects for small-molecule therapies, larger biomolecules and traditional Chinese medicine.

Chinese health supplements fail to live up to makers' claims
South China Morning Post (Hong Kong), 16 January 2008

Most examples of a popular Chinese health supplement said to boost the immune system and fight tumours did not live up to their makers' claims in tests by the Consumer Council. Only one in 16 samples of capsules made from the lingzhi fungus was able to live up to their claims of full spore breakage ˇV which aids absorption of the substance into the organs. Half of the samples had 90 percent breakage of the natural outer shell of the spores, while the worst performer had 5 percent, meaning the medicine might not work as well as consumers expected. Breaking the wall of the spores enabled the body to better absorb the nutrients. The test found wide variance in the breakage rates. Royal Medic Broken Ganoderma Spore had the lowest, at 5 percent. The highest score, 100 percent, was recorded by Natural Square Lingzhi Spore-Pollen.

Farmer discovers ancient "elixir of life" in Chinese mountains
The Thaindian (Thailand), 17 January 2008

A Chinese farmer from Yangchun County in Guangdong Province recently came across a giant glossy ganoderma, a rare type of fungus used in TCM, known as the "elixir of life" in ancient times. The farmer discovered the ganoderma while collecting herbs in the mountains. The 72cm long, 64cm wide fungus weighs over 15 kg and is the largest recorded specimen found in the province. Local people think that it could be over 200 years old. Nowadays it is used by TCM practitioners to treat tumours. It is also used as an anti-toxin.

Medicinal plants "facing threat"
BBC News (United Kingdom), 19 January 2008

Botanic Gardens Conservation International, an organisation representing botanic gardens in 120 countries, surveyed over 600 of its members as well as leading university experts. They identified 400 plants that were at risk of extinction due to over-harvesting. These included yew trees (the bark is used in the widely used cancer drug, paclitaxel), hoodia (a promising weight-loss drug) and honokiol (used in TCM to treat cancers and slow down the onset of heart disease). Many of the chemicals from the at-risk plants are now created in the lab. However, since around five billion people still rely on traditional plant-based medicine as their main form of health care these drugsˇ¦ possible extinction would have a significant effect on populations.

China reiterates regulations on medical care costs
www.chinaview.cn (China), 28 January 2008

The Ministry of Health and the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine in China has jointly issued a circular intended to tighten control of costs for medical services and drugs. The circular stated that public health and TCM authorities should set up controls for medical care organizations and prohibit them from raising fees or charges without government approval, charging extra fees or repeatedly charging fees for the same service. Those violating the regulations would face penalties.

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