Bitter Pill

New rules queer prospects for TCM
New rules queer prospects for TCM

In London's Chinatown, a poster in Chinese urges customers to stock up on traditional and other patent Chinese medicines before an impending ban on patented TCM products from next year.

According to the proposal the MHRA floated on July 9, the sale of all unlicensed manufactured herbal medicinal products will be halted in the UK from next year. The MHRA is a British government agency that is responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices used in the UK are safe.

New rules queer prospects for TCM

The proposal is not targeted specifically at TCM. Andrea Farmer, MHRA's herbal policy manager, says: "The decision was taken on the basis of the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive,which stipulates that all the manufactured herbal medicines in the EU market should have a suitable product license." [More]

Changing times

The latest proposal will act as a knockout blow to the industry.If the MHRA proposal is implemented from next year,TCM practitioners will be in a fix, Mei says, as they can no longer prescribe time-trusted Chinese medications.

Several TCM companies failed to complete the registration process, as they did not have the documents and money needed.

The mandatory stability studies for end products are not easy for muti-herbal products.

"To get a license, all the necessary tests and arrangements will cost upwards of $1.6 million, and that too for just one TCM product," says Mei.

"Though some companies have the money and means to get the stipulated tests done, it is often difficult to satisfy Western authorities on the stability and toxicology test results."

Applicants must evidence that the product has a 30-year safety record, including 15 years in the EU. But, TCM did not enter the EU market until the mid-1990s and were largely sold to EU customers as food supplements. [More]

Regulatory concerns

New rules queer prospects for TCM

Robert Verkerk, founder of Alliance for Natural Health.

Chinese drug makers and importers did not preserve the customs papers from a decade ago, and are thus unable to prove the 15-year use record in European markets.

Robert Verkerk, founder of Alliance for Natural Health, an international campaign working in the natural health field, says: "In 2008, the European Commission provided a report on traditional herbal products. In its last paragraph, it indicated that the EU directive was not suitable for traditional medicine systems like TCM."

"We have been doing a lot of work with the European Parliament. We created a strong core group of 40-50 parliamentarians to canvass support for our cause. However, it is frustrating to note that a change of guard at the top has pushed the whole issue into the backburner."

Needle success

New rules queer prospects for TCM

TCM - Acupunture

Though industrially manufactured herbal products are facing problems, TCM clinics are banking on acupuncture,and other treatment procedures to further expand in Europe.

Nick Pahl, CEO of the British Acupuncture Council, the leading self-regulatory body for the practice of traditional acupuncture in the UK, says it has been estimated that the demand for acupuncture treatment has almost doubled in the past decade to more than 4.5 million treatments every year.

[Full story]

New rules queer prospects for TCM

TCM firms should 'learn rules of West'

Classical TCM a dying art

New rules queer prospects for TCM

New rules queer prospects for TCM


Looking at Rosemarie Austria lying on a bed at a TCM clinic in Antwerp, it is easy to believe that she is in a modern Western hospital. But a closer look shows that the 54-year-old Belgian is in a small three-bed clinic with her knees full of needles, a requisite for her second round of acupuncture treatment.

"Although it hurts a little, the procedure has worked wonders for my dodgy knees," she says, adding that she was the first among her friends and family to try out TCM treatment. Austria says she was attracted to TCM as it was a therapy using herbs and techniques that have been used in China for thousands of years.

"The severe pain in my knees was hampering my daily routine. One day I chanced upon the TCM clinic in Antwerp's Chinatown and decided to give it a try," Austria says. [Full story]

New rules queer prospects for TCM
New rules queer prospects for TCM

Erik Kuncir, a medical expert with the US navy, enjoys massage treatment by Chinese therapist Gu Wei on June 18 onboard Chinese hospital ship Peace Ark, which visited Brunei for a drill involving a number of countries including China and the United States. ZHANG HAO / FOR CHINA DAILY

Traditional Chinese medicine gets a commercial boost as demand from overseas rises steadily

Old is proving to be gold for traditional Chinese medicine practitioners, with overseas patients seeking alternative therapies for chronic ailments, and expatriates, businesses and students embracing the ancient practice.

TCM dates back more than 4,000 years and differs from Western medical practice in that it focuses more on preventive care and increasing resistance to disease.

Though TCM has spread to many countries, it is now seeing a strong resurgence within China, buoyed by demand from medical tourists and expatriates.

It took a big step earlier this year with dedicated TCM clinics for high-end foreign clients in major Chinese cities.

[Full story]

New rules queer prospects for TCM

New rules queer prospects for TCM Getting the point of Chinese medicine

TCM-Western medicine interaction full of promise

Confucius Institute makes push for TCM

China issues proposal to promote TCM development

Centers to promote TCM overseas Agreement to boost TCM-western medicine co-op
New rules queer prospects for TCM

New rules queer prospects for TCM

Video: TCM finding place in world market Video: Intl students learn TCM in China

New rules queer prospects for TCM

Traditional Chinese Medicine is effective in treating incurable disease such as AIDS. At the same time, TCM has made a great contribution to health care.

However, there are still many opponents who insist that TCM relies on patient experience and not clinical trials for proof of its effectiveness, which is seen as unscientific and thus hard for western people to accept.

What is your opinion of Traditional Chinese Medicine? Have you ever accepted Chinese traditional treatment? Did it work?Enter forum >>

New rules queer prospects for TCM

Not the right prescription

By Robert Verkerk

[The author is executive director, Alliance for Natural Health International, a non-government organization based in the UK.]


New rules queer prospects for TCM

Steps taken by the European Union and the UK government have put a spoke in the wheels of traditional Chinese medicine, the healthcare system fine-tuned by China's scientists and clinicians over more than four millennia.

Having handed sovereignty to the EU on crucial matters such as key aspects of healthcare and trade, the British government is now choosing to jettison or stall actions that could safeguard the future of TCM.

This includes the recently stated intention by the British medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, to terminate the "sell-through" of unlicensed herbal medicines by the end of this year.

[Full story]

Testing times ahead for TCM

By Li Yun

[The author is a professor at Nanjing University of Chinese Medicine.]


Though the European Union came out with a directive that governs the sale and purchase of herbal medicines in 2004, it has been more of a detriment, rather than aid, for traditional Chinese medicine in Europe.

New rules queer prospects for TCM

TCM - Keeping healthy in Chinese way

The system's faults are clearly evident from the fact that despite its widespread popularity, TCM is not considered to be traditional medicine. Some sections of the Chinese press have indicated that the EU directive is in fact a trade barrier for TCM's development in Europe. However, it is more of a mismatch between Western standards and Chinese medicine.

Issues for TCM became complicated in the UK earlier this year, after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency of the UK urged the public to stop buying unregistered herbal products, citing safety concerns. The regulator is also believed to be considering a ban on the sale of all unlicensed herbal products in the UK from next year.

However, the MHRA's actions are against unregistered drugs, including patent Chinese drugs, but not against TCM as a whole.

[Full story]