Skeptic News: Chinese Medicine Crackdown

The Chinese State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) has ordered a special crackdownon counterfeit materials used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

The move is part of a six month campaign by authorities wanting to crack down on the use of illicit and illegal ingredients in traditional Chinese remedies and dishonest practices such as artificial dyeing and weight-increasing.

There will be stricter management of licenses for Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioners as well as routine and random surprise inspections to attempt to curtail such practices. Over the years a number of contaminants have been found in Chinese medicine including heavy metals such as lead and mercury and several instances are noted in the medical literature.

A number of products have been found to have been adulterated with pharmaceutical drugs. According to a study by the Taiwanese FDA, these products may include drugs such as acetaminophen, aminopyrine, caffeine, chlormezanone, chloroxazone, diazepam, diclofenac, ethoxybenzamide, hydrochlorothiazide, ibuprofen, indomethacin, ketoprofen, mefenamic acid, papaverine, phenylbutazone, piroxicam, prednisolone and salicylamide. 25-30% of herbal formulae sold in East Asian herbal stores and Chinese medicine clinics for the treatment of asthma, pain and arthritis were found to contain drugs.

However the campaign comes alongside China encouraging TCM institutions and enterprises to set up overseasbranches by establishing joint ventures with foreign companies. Estimating that there will be 10 such enterprises by 2015 in countries in Southeast Asia, Europe, North America andthe Middle East.

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