BERLIN - A publicly funded pharmacy in Germany's northeastern Hanseatic city of Stralsund began selling quality-tested traditional Chinese medicine compactates - or condensed medicinal granules - in late August, marking the debut of such TCM products in the German market.
In the TCM sector, medicinal plants are often prescribed in the form of dried plants, which patients have to mix and boil at home. A user-friendly alternative to date are TCM granules (dried plant extracts), which were previously controversial or banned in Europe due to quality concerns and incorrect dosage information.
At the launch ceremony, Peter Cramer, the owner of Rats-apotheke Stralsund pharmacy, introduced guests to the quality-tested TCM end-products and demonstrated the entire process of manufacturing compactates like coffee capsules, using a computerized and automated compactate mixer machine.
Patients can pour them into a glass of water just like making instant coffee.
The machine was customized for the European market by China's Anhui Jiren Pharmaceutical Group joint venture ConPhyMed Pharmaceutical, and the compactates were stored in a machine that adjusts temperature and humidity.
Sven Schroeder, head of the HanseMerkur Center for Traditional Chinese Medicine at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf, told Xinhua that the breakthrough lies in the fact that the compactates sold in Stralsund had received all quality regulation approvals needed for the launch of the products.
"Previously, there were similar products on the market, but they didn't collect all the safety data," he said. "For this reason, they were forbidden in Germany. This is the first time officially recognized compactates, similar to granules, are sold in Germany."
In order for this to happen, TCM manufacturers have to prove there are no pesticides, heavy metal or toxins in the products. The manufacturers also have to be able to prove the identity of compactates.
"If you have raw herbs, you can tell which herb it is. But with powder, you have to do identity testing," Schroeder explained. "This challenge has also been solved, and the pharmacy in Stralsund is equipped with testing machines."
All compactates sold here are tested in China and then once more in Germany, he told Xinhua.
"They are best-quality herbs sent to Europe," he said.
"TCM is especially popular in large cities in Germany," Schroeder said. "As a physician, I am very happy now my patients have the opportunity to order from this pharmacy and get their products sent to them."
Though the launch is a small step taken in a small city, Schroeder believes that it will have a huge impact on Europe.
It was realized as a result of close cooperation between universities, cultural institutes and the pharmaceutical industries in China and Germany, especially a strategic partnership forged between the Confucius Institute in Stralsund and the HanseMerkur Center.