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

Fatty-liver disease discovery promises new treatments, has cal researchers shouting ¡§go bears!¡¨
Nature.berkeley.edu, 1 May 2012

Two types of naturally produced substances reduce the uptake of fat by the liver, opening the door to the development of new treatments for fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes, according to a study by researchers at the University of California, published online in the journal Hepatology. Andreas Stahl, the senior author, said the study had some fascinating surprises for the research team. The most common bear bile acid, ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), was one of only two substances out of more than 30 tested that researchers found to be effective. UDCA is also the main ingredient in a traditional Chinese medicine used to treat liver disorders. Another effective compound, deoxycholic acid (DCA), is a common human bile acid.

New alternative medicine clamp
Gulf-daily-news.com, 2 May 2012

Tough new guidelines to regulate Bahrain's alternative medicine industry will come into effect. It means only licensed physicians in homeopathy, ayurveda and Chinese medicine, among others, would be allowed to practice in the country, said National Health Regulatory Authority (NHRA) chief executive officer, Dr Baha Eldin Fateha. ¡§So far, there have been no rules governing such practice but now they will have to follow a set norm before they can be registered to operate,¡¨ he said, ¡§the new rules to expose illegal practitioners and ensure patient safety should have been put in place earlier, as Bahrain is far behind other countries in the region.¡¨

Chinese health-care system rife with corruption risks
Wsj.com, 2 May 2012

Western companies seeking to find their way into China¡¦s largely state-run healthcare system face heightened risks now that the government is planning to investigate drug-procurement and medical-device tendering. China¡¦s government is going to start inspecting hospitals¡¦ invoices in a bid to curb commercial bribery and money laundering during the procurement process. Last year, 3,030 people were punished for their roles in appropriation of government funds intended for drug procurement or other medical services, the deals involved 32.9 million yuan. ¡§It¡¦s difficult to get these products into the hospitals if you¡¦re not willing to give them free samples, take them out to dinner or treat them well,¡¨ said Wendy Wysong, a partner for Clifford Chance based in Hong Kong.

Recall of chromium-tainted proprietary Chinese medicines
Info.gov.hk, 6 May 2012

Hong Kong - The Department of Health (DH) instructed a proprietary Chinese medicine (pCm) manufacturer to recall from shelf a pCm, Germany Wintex Brand Herbal Sep Capsules (HKP-09565). ¡§Preliminary test results revealed that the gelatin capsule of a sample of Herbal Sep Capsules contained chromium at a level of 84ppm, while the test results of other samples are still pending,¡¨ a DH spokesman said. Since incidents of chromium-tainted capsules were reported in the Mainland, DH has written to all product certificate holders of pCm urging them to examine their products to ascertain source of their capsules, and submit laboratory test reports for chromium should empty capsules are supplied by the Mainland. DH also tests samples of pCm capsules via the surveillance scheme.

New health book to come on the market but will it sell?
China Daily, 7 May 2012

Books on improving health have become very popular in China in recent years, but it may not necessarily be good news for the world-renowned Merck Home Health Handbook. The Merck health manual is regarded as one of the most successful medical care works for the public in the world. ¡§But I am not sure if the book can sell well in China,¡¨ said Zhang Ya'nan, a publication analyst, explaining that healthcare books are popular in China now but most readers seem to prefer simple and practical ones with no more than 300 pages and interesting illustrations, but the Chinese-language Handbook looks rather like a big dictionary with more than 1,200 pages. It is expected to be available on shelves early next year priced at more than 400 yuan.

Chinese ¡¥baby flesh' capsules prompt customs crackdown in South Korea
Independent.co.uk, 8 May 2012

The Korea Customs Service said since last August it has thwarted 35 attempts to smuggle about 17,450 Chinese-made capsules filled with what officials said was powdered human flesh. The capsules were made from dead babies and infants in Jilin and other areas in north eastern China. Last year, Chinese government launched an investigation into the sale of dead foetuses and placentas to produce such capsules, mainly for sale to the Korean market. A health ministry spokesman said there were strict rules for the disposal of foetal remains in accordance with funeral regulations and rules regarding the disposal of medical waste. Trading in human remains is strictly illegal. Dried or ground placenta is used as an ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine.

WHO Collaborating Centre for Traditional Medicine designated in Hong Kong
Info.gov.hk, 9 May 2012

The World Health Organization (WHO) designated the Chinese Medicine Division (CMD) of the Department of Health (DH) as the Collaborating Centre for Traditional Medicine (CCTM) in Hong Kong. It is the first of its kind in the world as the Centre will focus on assisting the WHO to formulate policies and strategies as well as setting regulatory standards for traditional medicine. Addressing the inauguration ceremony, the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, said that the two systems can blend together in beneficial harmony, using the best features of each and compensating for each other's weakness. This, however, requires deliberate policy decisions and the co-operation of countries in formulating and implementing a relevant framework.

Tourists find cure for what ails them
China Daily, 11 May 2012

A report by McKinsey & Co said that Asia has the highest potential for the medical tourism market in the world. Revenue from the industry was $34 billion in 2007, accounting for 12.7% of the global market. It is expected to reach $100 billion this year, the report forecast. TCM tourism is expected to develop more quickly than the medical tourism industry in general, according to Liu Zhanglin, vice-president of the China Chamber of Commerce for the Import and Export of Medicines and Health Products. China has issued policies to support the development of TCM commercial service, which designated TCM travel as one of the top four sectors that should be boosted in the coming years. The other three are TCM doctors providing remote services via the Internet for foreigners, going abroad to practice treatments and opening clinics. TCM tourism is expected to grow the fastest among the four, said Liu. Many local governments such as Beijing have taken steps to develop TCM tourism.

New Adelaide Center to focus on traditional Chinese medicine
Asianscientist.com, 14 May 2012

The Zhendong Australia China Center for Molecular Traditional Chinese Medicine is a joint Center between the University of Adelaide, the Shanxi College of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and the Zhendong Pharmaceutical Company. At the University of Adelaide, the Center will investigate the mode of action of TCM using a systems biology approach. ¡§The application of systems biology to TCM is particularly exciting because it explores what effects there may be on the molecular/genetic networks that are altered in sickness,¡¨ said the director of the center, Professor David Adelson. Understanding how TCM acts will not only support its evidence-based integration into Western medicine, but also increase our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying disease said Adelson.

Dwarf seahorse trade in peril
Petproductnews.com, 14 May 2012

The National Marine Fisheries Service is considering adding the dwarf seahorse (Hippocampus zosterae) to the threatened or endangered species lists after receiving a petition from the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity. A listing of threatened or endangered would effectively ban US trade of the dwarf seahorse, including imports, exports and interstate sales. The Pet Industry Joint Advisory Council plans to respond to the solicitation and is seeking information from the industry regarding the volume of seahorses harvested for ornamental fish trade, curio trade, traditional medicine trade and others, along with volume of intra-US trade of US-harvested or -cultured specimens, volume of US exports and imports, and captive-breeding initiatives underway in the US and elsewhere.

Cyprus and China explore ways of cooperation in the medical sector

Minister of Health Stavros Malas and his Chinese counterpart Chen Zu discussed in Beijing ways in which Cyprus and China could cooperate in the medical sector. The two ministers discussed about the promotion of TCM in combination with conventional medicine, through the establishment of a medical centre in Cyprus, with a view to attract medical tourism. An official press release issued said that Malas proposed the establishment of accredited educational institutions in Cyprus that would provide education in the fields of TCM to European citizens. They also elaborated on the cooperation between the two countries in the fields of research and development of innovative pharmaceutical products.

Campaign vows to regulate TCM material market
Shanghaidaily.com, 22 May 2012

The State Food and Drug Administration has ordered a special crackdown on counterfeit materials used in TCM as well as illegal actions. The administration has urged both regular and non-scheduled inspections for the TCM materials market as well as stricter management over the quality of TCM products and the licenses of sellers. The campaign will also focus on illegal practices, including using cheaper materials, dyeing materials to make them look more appealing and artificially increasing the weight of these materials. The administration also urged local drug watchdogs to set up an effective mechanism to regulate the TCM material market.

Taiwan unveils new orchid species for use as Chinese medicine
Focustaiwan.tw, 23 May 2012

The Council of Agriculture unveiled a new orchid species for Chinese medicinal usage. The herb usually takes eight years to breed and contains high levels of polysaccharides, which play a role in stimulating the immune system. The Golden Emperor No. 1, a crossbreed between dendrobium tosaense and dendrobium stem, contains more polysaccharides than the premium orchid species dendrobium huoshanense. The new species matures in half time as the old one and its yield is five times higher, said Wen Chi-luan, a research assistant at the council. Indications of dendrobium orchids include dryness, thirst and inflammation, protecting stomach, cleansing liver and improving eyesight, Wen said.

Malaysian authorities raid fake TCM warehouse
Asiaone.com, 26 May 2012

After a year of investigation, Malaysia's health ministry has dealt a big blow to the country's largest fake Chinese medicine ring, which also supplied Singapore. The ring had allegedly obtained chemicals from China and Taiwan, processed them, packaged them and sold them as medicine. During the raid, the ministry found over 100 boxes of more than 50 different ¡§medicines¡¨, worth more than $460,000. The Chinese ¡§medicines¡¨ included those that claimed to be for flu, cough, rheumatism and others, not only were they ineffective, they could also cause poisoning, a supervisor warned. The authorities are now working to capture the mastermind. ¡§We have only captured their packaging and supplying centre, but not the actual factory,¡¨ he said.

New software to analyze health by tongue scan
Medicaldaily.com, 26 May 2012

Researchers have developed new software that can predict if a person should see a physician by analyzing a picture of the person's tongue. They say that this could be a unique step towards preventive medicine. The idea of the software comes from ancient Chinese medicine. Research team said that their software could classify zheng (disharmony pattern) status of all 263 gastritis patients and 48 healthy volunteers took part in the study. The gastritis patients were classified based on the intensity of the symptoms and what bacteria that had caused gastritis. Our ultimate goal is to create an application for smartphones that will allow anyone to take a photo of their tongue and learn the status of their zheng,¡¨ said Dong Xu, the co-author of the study.

China to train 15,000 TCM backbone clinicians
English.cri.cn, 30 May 2012

China will train and cultivate about 15,000 TCM clinicians for hospitals at county level by 2015, according to a government plan. The 12th Five-Year Plan for TCM said that the government will also provide about 50,000 country doctors with higher education on TCM majors, and cultivate 30,000 TCM general practitioners for grassroots medical facilities. The plan said that every Chinese city at prefecture level will have a TCM hospital, a time frame in which 95% of community healthcare centers and 90% of township health clinics will provide TCM services. It is estimated that there will be 3,397 TCM hospitals and clinics around China. The country had 3,232 TCM hospitals in 2010. The government will select 700 experienced TCM doctors as instructors to cultivate another 1,400 promising young TCM clinicians as their apprentices and successors.

Possible 5-year plan for bio industry
China Daily, 30 May 2012

The total output value of China's biotechnology industry is likely to hit 4 trillion yuan ($630 billion) by the end of 2015. The government is mulling on a five-year development plan for the industry, China Securities Journal reported, citing an official at the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). The plan will focus on the development of new chemical drugs, biomedical engineering and the modernization of traditional Chinese medicines. The pharmaceutical sector is poised to contribute about 90% of the output value, which amounts to about 3.6 trillion yuan. MIIT announced earlier that the nation's pharmaceutical sector is expected to witness an annual increase of 20% in the next four years.

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