Authorities will step up supervision this year over the quality of traditional Chinese medicine to ensure the quality of the drugs improves, a top health official said on Jan 9.
Traditional Chinese medicine regulators across the country will intensify supervision over TCM to be sold at hospitals and clinics, covering the whole chain including purchasing, inspection and storage of the drugs, to prevent fake or substandard medicine being used, said Yu Wenming, head of the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
As a major measure to improve quality at the source, the administration will work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs to establish 150 production bases for raw materials in their native areas across China and promote standardized production of raw materials such as herbs, he said at a national conference on TCM in Beijing.
The administration will try to work with other government departments to set up a mechanism to jointly supervise enterprises that grow herbs for TCM, and make progress in establishing a tracing system for 50 kinds of raw materials grown in their native places, so the sources and flow of major products can be traceable, and perpetrators involved can be held accountable, Yu said.
TCM produced with raw materials from their native places normally have better medicinal effects.
On Jan 9, Ma Xiaowei, minister of the National Health Commission, also urged TCM authorities across China to improve product quality. A multidepartmental cooperative mechanism will be set up for the purpose, he said.
According to a guideline released by the central government last year on promoting the development and innovation of TCM, authorities will establish a trace system that covers production, distribution and use of raw materials and drugs to ensure quality. Local governments should also take more efforts to protect the environment around production areas and to intensify supervision over the use of pesticides and fertilizers, the guideline said.
Wei Feng, a TCM researcher at the National Institutes for Food and Drug Control, said although the general quality of TCM drugs in China has been rising in recent years due to improved supervision, problems still exist such as using raw materials polluted by pesticides or other chemicals, and improper storage, which affect the safety of TCM drugs.
"Ensuring quality and safety of traditional Chinese medicine is of great significance to the sustainable development of the sector, and emphasis should be put on the sources of TCM production," he said. Yu, head of the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, also said on Jan 9 that TCM will play a more important role in promoting public health in China this year, and a number of measures will be taken to promote TCM among the public so it contributes more to disease prevention, healthcare and treatment of chronic diseases.
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