Chinese firms hope for boost in traditional medicine globally

The anti-malarial compound Artemisinin which won Youyou the prestigious award is extracted from a Chinese herb.

Beijing: Chinese pharmaceutical companies hope that the discovery of Tu Youyou, the woman who won China its first Nobel Prize in Medicine this year, will help promote Traditional Chinese Medicine globally.

The anti-malarial compound Artemisinin which won Youyou the prestigious award is extracted from a Chinese herb.

Guilin Pharma Limited, affiliated with Shanghai-listed Fosun Pharma, is the only Chinese firm on the World Health Organisation's (WHO) list of recommended providers of the drug.

With the exception of Guilin Pharma Limited, Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) producers are still barred from sending their products to the international market because they lack certification by international agencies such as the WHO's PQ, the United States' FDA and the European Union's EMA, state-run Xinhua news agency reported Friday.

China has 80 per cent of the world's materials for extracting Artemisinin, said Chen Qiyu, chairman of Fosun Pharma.

However, most TCM producers can only sell the raw materials to foreign companies for marginal profits, as their own Artemisinin-containing products may not directly enter the global market.

Guilin Pharma Limited has sold 23.8 million doses of Artemisinin to the global market over the past three years, benefiting 3.4 million people, with 90 per cent in Africa.

Although Tu's Nobel award helps promote TCM globally, more efforts are needed to improve the management of pharmaceutical firms and quality of medicinal herbs in China, Fang Shuting, president of the China Association of TCM, said during a medicine trade fair that concluded Sunday in Zhangshu City of Jiangxi Province.

According to Fang, nearly 1,600 of more than 4,000 pharmaceutical companies in China are traditional medicine firms, most of which are low-tech and poorly managed.

Fosun chairman Chen said Chinese pharmaceutical companies should learn to play by international rules to raise the products' value.

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