Child’s death sparks regulation of TCM

By Zhao Yusha Source:Global Times Published: 2018/12/28 17:23:39

Phony health clinics peddling elixirs as medication in hot water

An employee in a traditional Chinese medicine store in Suzhou, East China's Jiangsu Province measures herbal medicine for customers on December 22. Photo:VCG

The State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine has vowed to regulate phony experts, who impair people's health under the cover of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), after the actions of a health-product giant allegedly led to the death of a 7-year-old girl three years ago which has caused a public outcry against fraudulent advertising.

There are some charlatans who claimed to provide traditional Chinese medicine for healthcare, but their low-quality service and fraudulent advertising have brought damage, instead of benefit, to people's health, said the administration on a Thursday conference.

It said that although the administration punished some unqualified institutes, similar ones keep springing up.

Quanjian Group, a Tianjin-based multibillion-yuan healthcare empire, is in hot water for allegedly delaying treatment which led to the death of a 4-year-old girl, named Zhou Yang.

After persuading the girl's family to suspend medical treatment in hospital, the company gave the girl, who suffered from a malignant germ-cell tumor in the sacrococcygeal region, the company's own anti-cancer products - a tube of plant essential oil, a powdered beverage mix and TCM - which deteriorated the girl's health, according to an article published by Dingxiangyisheng, a WeChat account run by the Hangzhou-based Hangzhou Liankemeixun Biomedical Co.

Kang Yi, deputy mayor of Tianjin, and leader of the investigation group in the Quanjian case said on Friday that some of the company's products are suspected of being fraudulently advertised.

One of the company's signature treatments is fire therapy, which they claim originates from traditional Chinese medicine, but in practice, the treatment has caused serious burns and even death to patients, reported the Beijing News.

For the sake of maintaining and developing TCM and being responsible for people's health, the administration vowed to examine such institutes and punish the unqualified ones.

Now that many Chinese people, especially those above 30 years old, place great emphasis on health, they are eyeing for TCM for its organic elements and long-term effect.

Cui Li, an official from China's National Health Commission said in October that the commission has been giving more support to develop TCM, and that it has specialized medical reforms to emphasize the use of TCM in hospitals, China News Service reported.

However, insiders said a lack of unified standard and fraudulent promotion is impeding the healthy development of TCM.

TCM is a science that is based on experiences and does not have a unified scientific proof of efficacy, which leaves a loophole for some people to mislabel phony drugs without medicinal value as TCM, a TCM doctor surnamed Cheng, from the First Affiliated Hospital of Chongqing Medical University told the Global Times on Friday.

Moreover, many of these institutes register their products as food, but they implicitly promote the products as magic elixir, which misleads some people, said Zhou Zijun, a professor at Peking University's School of Public Health.

China News Service also said that the government is encouraging TCM to be exported outside of the country.

If China doesn't build concrete and comprehensive standards on TCM, inferior and fake TCM will be exported to other countries, which will severely damage the reputation of TCM, Zhou noted.

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