Home > Current Events > Year 2012 February
A review of stories making the headlines.

Acupuncture may boost in-vitro fertilization success
Medical Daily, 30 January 2012

Acupuncture may help some women conceive through in-vitro fertilization, according to a new analysis on past studies, that published in the journal Fertility and Sterility. Chinese researchers looked at the overall picture of the effectiveness of acupuncture and IVF by combing results of past studies. Researchers found that women who had acupuncture generally had a slightly higher pregnancy rate, but not a higher birth rate than women who did not have the therapy. Researchers are unsure as to why acupuncture may help a woman conceive with IVF, but they note that there is some evidence that suggests needle stimulation may improve blood flow to the uterus.

The association between socioeconomic status and traditional Chinese medicine use among children in Taiwan
7thSpace Interactive, 1 February 2012

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is popular in Asian countries, however, limited studies are available on the socioeconomic status (SES) associated with TCM use among the pediatric population. A National Health Interview Survey was conducted in Taiwan in 2001, including 5971 children and adolescents. The results showed that children and adolescents with high SES were more likely to use TCM and especially girls aged 10-18 years. The findings point to the high use of complementary and alternative medicine among children and adolescents.

Suspension of use of Chinese herb mislabelled as Flos Campsis
7thSpace Interactive, 3 February 2012

Hong Kong (HKSAR) - The Department of Health (DH) appealed to the public who have bought the Chinese herb :Flos Campsis; from a licensed retailer, Cheong Kee Medicine Co, to stop using the product immediately as mislabelling might have occurred, such that what was dispensed could be another herb, Flos Daturae Metelis. The herb is a potent toxic herb, containing tropane alkaloids and is classified in Schedule 1 of the Chinese Medicine Ordinance.

High demand for sea turtles in China sends poachers toward Philippines
Public Radio International PRI, 9 February 2012

As Chinese waters are increasingly depleted of sea turtles, Chinese poachers are traveling farther to find them. That includes hunting in waters that both China and the Philippines claim, like the waters around the Philippine island of Palawan. The area is home to the endangered hawksbill sea turtle, a species so ancient it predates some dinosaurs. There・s now a group in Hainan called :SeaTurtles 911,; which is trying to rescue captured sea turtles, and spread awareness in China that hunting endangered turtles is bad for the environment. But demand lingers, and the supply near Palawan seems too tempting for poachers to resist.

TCM exports set to rise at a healthy clip
China Daily, 10 February 2012

The value of traditional Chinese medicine exported is expected to increase by more than 10% a year during the next 5 to 10 years. Traditional Chinese medicines include proprietary Chinese medicines, raw materials and ingredients, as well as herbal extracts. The value of those exports increased from $600 million in 1996 to $1.8 billion in 2010. The value of exports of the medicine reached $2.33 billion last year, an increase of 36.2% from the year before, while the weight of the exports increased by 14% and the prices of such products increased 23%. During the past few years, the proportion of raw materials and ingredients among exports has decreased and that of herbal extracts has risen.

Glaxo studies traditional Chinese medicine
Telegraph.co.uk, 12 February 2012

Britain・s biggest drug maker unveiled the outcome of a review of its 38 groups of scientists, known as Discovery Performance Units (DPU). The new units, which based in China, will look at traditional Chinese medicines, investigating how their principles can be applied to making new, synthetic, molecules. :We have created a DPU that will marry traditional Chinese medicine with modern drug discovery and clinical efficacy,; said Moncef Slaoui, Glaxo・s chairman of research and development. Glaxo・s move reflects a wish by drug companies to adapt their research to particular regions. Six years ago, AstraZeneca established a centre in China to study diseases prevalent in Asia, such as liver and stomach cancer, and lung conditions.

Ancient Chinese medicine could fight ageing
New Scientist, 13 February 2012

A flowering Tibetan shrub that tricks cells into thinking they are starving could become a weapon against multiple sclerosis and even old age. The roots of the blue evergreen hydrangea (Dichroa febrifuga) have been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine to treat malaria. Tracy Keller and colleagues at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine in Boston have found that halofuginone, a chemical based on the roots' active ingredient, blocks immune reactions that can cause disease. Keller found that the drug triggers a chemical cascade that responds to amino acid scarcity, which could make the drug effective against autoimmune disease. But as halofuginone mimics nutrient deprivation, there is another possible use. Animals that receive only just adequate nutrition are known to live longer, that means halofuginone might work as an anti-ageing drug.

China to raise medical industry standards
CRIENGLISH.com, 14 February 2012

The State Council has worked out a five-year plan (2011-2015) to raise standards and improve quality in the medicinal sector, including Western medicines, traditional Chinese medicine, and generic drug products. The government will raise standards on 2500 chemical drugs, 2800 patent Chinese traditional drugs, 200 biological pharmaceutical products, as well as 350 kinds of Chinese medicinal herbs and 650 Chinese medicinal components by 2015. Furthermore, the government plans to reinforce local medicinal quality-monitoring networks, while making greater efforts to crack down on counterfeit pharmaceutical products.

Integrative medicine successfully treats chronic pain (maybe)
Fierce Healthcare, 16 February 2012

A study indicates that complementary treatments like yoga and massages can treat chronic pain and other conditions successfully, according to a report from philanthropist community Bravewell Collaborative. The survey included 29 integrative medicine centers, including Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic and Stanford University, and asked about integrative medicine results for adult, geriatric, adolescent, obstetric-gynecologic, pediatric and end-of-life care. The survey respondents reported that they had the most clinical success in chronic pain (75%), gastrointestinal disorders (59%), depression and anxiety (55%), cancer (52%) and stress (52%). The survey results, however, were not necessarily objectively measured, Medscape noted.

TCM expert defends bile harvesting
China Daily, 17 February 2012

The extraction of bear bile for medicinal purposes has met opposition from animal rights activists in recent years. Opponents say the bears are subjected to crude surgery that leaves permanent wounds in their abdominal walls and gall bladders, causing serious diseases and even death. The protest became increasingly intense in past weeks after a pharmaceutical company that makes medicine from bear bile filed for approval by the Growth Enterprise Board to be listed on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange. Fang Shuting, head of the China Association of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), said there is a great misunderstanding among the media and the public about the process of extracting bear bile. So far, government authorities have not approved the substitute drugs for sale on the market.

Anger over use of bear bile in traditional medicine production
The Star Online, 20 February 2012

Protesters call for the rejection of public listing bid by company that makes products extracted from live animals. Animal lovers have mounted pressure on yet another controversial industry in China, with the bile bear farmers and producers being the latest target of a growing force opposing cruelty to bears. The anti-bear bile production protesters joined forces by dressing up as moon bears in the streets of Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Dalian, Shenyang and Macau and appealing to the China Securities Regulatory Commission through the media nationwide to reject a public listing bid by Guizhentang Pharmaceutical Co Ltd. This is the company・s second attempt for listing after its failure due to similar protests last year. Surveys conducted by two of China・s largest portals showed that 90% of the 19,000 respondents were against the listing of the company.

Top 10 universities of traditional Chinese medicine
China.org.cn, 20 February 2012

As one of the most important national treasures, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has gained more and more attention at home and abroad. More college students have chosen to study TCM as their major. In China, ten of the universities, featuring complete disciplines and accomplished faculty, have renowned as the best places to study TCM are located in Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Nanjing Chengdu, Shandong, Heilongjiang, Tianjin, Hunan, and Liaoning.

Tianmao to push ahead with online sales of drugs
China Daily, 20 February 2012

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has reiterated its aim of selling medicine online after a license dispute. National regulations state that two licenses are required to open an online pharmacy. The online information service license allows companies to display medicine online, while the online trading license, which enables online transactions, is restricted to drug-retailing enterprises. Pharmacies can sell non-prescription drugs, healthcare items, medical instruments and birth control products online. Sales of traditional Chinese medicines are also brisk, but they are categorized as :food;. State Food and Drug Administration data show that 3588 companies have obtained the online information service license, but just 101 companies have authorization for online drug trading. Third-party platforms such as Tianmao must revamp their drugstore sites to comply with the law.

Lingering drought disrupts lives of 6 million in Yunnan
CRIENGLISH.com, 21 February 2012

Severe drought has lingered in southwest China's Yunnan Province for three consecutive years, disrupting the lives of 6.3 million people, local authorities said. Direct economic losses reached 2.3 billion yuan; more than 651,000 hectares of crops were damaged or destroyed in the province. Among those affected, more than 2 million people are short of drinking water, about 18,000 firefighters and 5,000 vehicles have been mobilized to deliver water to these residents. As a major province producing herbal materials for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), the prices of TCM from Yunnan are on the rise. Prices of more than 80% of TCM categories on the market, up to 200 in number, have jumped 30% annually since 2010, according to figures from the provincial TCM chamber of commerce.

China's Tongrentang: no more franchises
China Daily, 22 February 2012

Tongrentang Co., has announced that the company will no longer have franchised outlets. The Beijing-based company was widely criticized last year after one of its franchised stores tricked foreigners buying unnecessary and overpriced medicine. Tongrentang said that after an overhaul at its 46 franchised outlets, they decided not to keep them. They has already terminated contracts with 7 outlets and merged another 38 stores into 18 joint-ventures. Tongrentang said that weak management and quality control issues in those franchised stores could easily cause problems that might damage its reputation.

Polysaccharides from astragali radix restore chemical-induced blood vessel loss in zebra fish
7thSpace Interactive, 23 February 2012

Astragali Radix has been used widely for the treatment of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, and to enhance endurance and stamina in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). The polysaccharide constituents of Astragali Radix (ARP) are considered as one of the major constituents contributing to the multiple pharmacological effects of this medicinal plant. A study evaluated the vascular regenerative activities of ARPs in a chemically-induced blood vessel loss model in zebra fish, and showed that two polysaccharide fractions, P4 (50000 D 0.1 mum), produced a significant and dose-dependent recovery in VRI-induced blood vessel. These findings support the hypothesis that polysaccharides are one of the active constituents in Astragali Radix, contributing to its beneficial effect on treatment of diseases associated with a deficiency in angiogenesis.

Results of Hong Kong Chinese Materia Medica Standards (Phase IV) announced
7thSpace Interactive, 23 February 2012

The Department of Health (DH) published reference standards on safety and quality for 36 commonly used Chinese Materia Medica (CMM) in Phase IV of the Hong Kong Chinese Materia Medica Standards (HKCMMS). The publication sets out the name, source and description of the 36 herbs and methods of identification. The HKCMMS Volume IV is accessible at the DH website, and limited copies of CDs can be obtained from the HKCMMS Office. Printed copies of the publication will be available for sale from early April 2012.

TCM Practitioners Board censures acupuncturist
Channel News Asia, 27 February 2012

Singapore, the Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board has censured Tan Kang Hok and fined him S$10,000. Tan also has to pay costs and expense of or incidental to the inquiry. In addition, Tan needs to provide a written undertaking to the Board that he will not prescribe, dispense and/or give any form of medicine to his patients in the future. Tan had been given a warning in 2007 to not prescribe and/or dispense medicine to patients and to ensure that he maintained proper and accurate medical records. The Board found that Tan did not heed the warning.

Traditional medicine group to protest DOH ban on medical masseurs
Focus Taiwan News Channel, 28 February 2012

A traditional Chinese medicine association announced it will stage a protest against the Department of Health's (DOH's) recent decision to ban practitioners of traditional massage to work in Chinese medicine clinics without national medical licences. Since the DOH decided to no longer include traditional massage under the national health insurance (NHI) system, the practice can only be performed by Chinese medicine practitioners with medical licences. Traditional masseurs who do not hold the relevant licence will be classified as folk medicine practitioners and be unable to practice in clinics. Patients need to pay for their services, which many masseurs think will seriously affect their livelihoods. The DOH responded that traditional masseurs can only attain the relevant licence after taking medical courses and national medical exams.

Compiled By:
Rose Tse, Integrated Chinese Medicine Holdings Ltd.