Producer of Chinese herbal medicine under fire after its product was denounced for not preventing COVID-19
Published: Apr 18, 2022 03:26 AM
Photo taken on Feb. 28, 2021 shows the traditional Chinese medicine Lianhua Qingwen capsules at a pharmacy in Kuwait City, Kuwait.Photo:Xinhua
Photo taken on February 28, 2021 shows the traditional Chinese medicine Lianhua Qingwen capsules at a pharmacy in Kuwait City, Kuwait. Photo:Xinhua

Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical, Chinese producer of drugs and supplier of the Chinese herbal medicine Lianhua Qingwen is suffering a heavy blow after an influential health platform said on Sunday that the famous medicine cannot prevent people from infection with COVID-19, contrary to what many people believed.

Health platform Dingxiang Yisheng published an article on Sunday saying Lianhua Qingwen, which has been widely used to treat COVID-19 patients in China and is currently being distributed to Shanghai residents, cannot prevent infections and advised the public not to take it as a preventive medicine.

The medicine could cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and rash. Fang Bangjiang, doctor from Long Hua Hospital of the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, said that Lianhua Qingwen has complex ingredients and is mainly suitable for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms of fever and pneumonia but unsuitable for prevention. Its ingredients will affect the renal system.

Before the report was published and went viral on multiple social media platforms, Chinese internet influencer, Wang Sicong, said on Wednesday that the World Health Organization (WHO) never recommended the medicine as a treatment for COVID-19. Wang's words made some splash on social media and the market value of Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical evaporated by 6.7 billion yuan ($1.05 billion) on Friday.

The company earlier disclosed that Lianhua Qingwen accounted for over 40 percent of the company's revenues.

The pharmaceutical called on netizens to remain rational and said that they never made any public claims about the WHO recommendation of the drug. Studies showed the medicine has a significant inhibitory effect on the original coronavirus strain and variants like Delta and Omicron.

The company said that the drug did make remarkable contributions in the treatment for 2003's SARS, 2009s H1N1 influenza, and the COVID-19 pandemic in its initial outbreak in 2020. It was recommended more than 20 times in treatment guidebooks for various diseases, including six for COVID-19 since 2020.

Revenues of the firm increased by 50 percent in 2020 and in March, the company ramped up production to provide the capsules to aid Hong Kong's battle against Omicron.

Some residents in Shanghai, which is under strict epidemic control management due to a severe resurgence of the virus and experienced difficulties with food supplies in some communities, also received boxes of the capsules.

The medicine, with a sharp increase in visibility since the COVID-19 outbreak, left many people the impression that it could prevent infections and consumption among healthy people in Shanghai reinforced such impression.

Some people said on popular social media platform Sina Weibo that the consecutive revelations of Lianhua Qingwen's limits contrasted the public's understanding of the medicine created by high visibility. The medicine has become a "star product" of the company and many people do not really differentiate medical terms

The fact that nobody has challenged that the medicine can be used for COVID-19 treatment, only raised doubts on whether it has been abused and its effects exaggerated.

When the facts contradicted public opinion, it dealt a heavy blow to the medicine's reputation and the company's market prices. Its distribution in Shanghai, which is still fighting an arduous battle against Omicron, was the blasting fuse, a Sina Weibo user posted.

Global Times