Raw material tracking system, efforts to promote industry's opening up planned
China will improve the quality of traditional Chinese medicine and further open up the sector as part of efforts to promote inheritance and innovation of TCM.
Authorities will establish a trace system that covers production, distribution and use of TCM raw materials and drugs for effective quality supervision, and it is expected that all key TCM drugs will be traceable from their origins to their destinations, according to a guideline released by the central government in late October.
More efforts will be taken to protect the environment around TCM production areas and to intensify supervision over the use of pesticides and fertilizers in production, the guideline said.
By 2022, a technical standard and grading system for TCM production will be established, it said.
Meanwhile, efforts will be taken to promote the opening up of TCM, including designating the practice as an important component of international cooperation between China and countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative; carrying out special programs on TCM international cooperation; promoting formulation of international standards for TCM; and developing TCM trade, according to the guideline.
Aside from China, TCM has been used in more than 180 countries and regions, and China has signed TCM cooperation agreements with 40 countries, according to the National Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
"Intensifying management of TCM raw materials and drugs and ensuring their quality and safety is of great significance to maintaining public health and promoting sustainable development of the industry and its prosperity," said Wei Feng, a TCM researcher at the National Institutes for Food and Drug Control.
Although the general quality of TCM drugs in China has been improving in recent years due to improved supervision, problems still exist in the sectors, including excessive use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides, producing drugs with substandard herbs and other raw materials, using sulfur to treat TCM raw materials for preservation, and adulteration in the production and selling of expensive drugs, he said.
"More emphasis should be put on the sources of TCM production," he said.
"Also, regulations and standards for the production of TCM drugs should be improved."
In addition, a grading system should be established for the TCM industry to promote competitiveness, he said.
Ma Xiaona, an associate professor of gynecology at Beijing University of Chinese Medicine, said an increasing number of students from overseas, including South Korea, Japan, the United States and Singapore, are studying TCM at the university.
"With more frequent international exchanges, it is important to establish our own evaluation system for TCM rather than borrowing the standards of Western medicine to evaluate it," she said.