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TCM to Witness Healthy Exports

A growing trend in favor of natural medicines has created opportunities for Chinese companies to increase exports of traditional Chinese medicines (TCM), and in coming years these medicines should play a significant role in the country's efforts to offer better medical services to its population, as well as to people throughout the world.

This is the view of Wang Daishu, a professor with the Beijing Institute for Cancer Research, affiliated with Peking University.

In China, an increasing number of people are choosing TCM to treat various diseases due to its generally limited side effects and long-term results. TCM is also gaining more favor worldwide, he said.

At present, more than 120 countries and regions have established institutions dedicated to TCM research, and many hospitals in foreign countries rely on herbal medicines.

"Research into the use of traditional Chinese medicine to treat chronic and stubborn diseases should be our major research subjects," said Wang.

Cancer, for example, is now one of the chief causes of death in China. According to statistics provided by the China Cancer Institute, about 1.5 million people died of cancer last year.

Wang has spent 26 years researching Zilongjin, a natural Chinese medicine with anti-cancer properties. A study of more than 400 clinical cases of cancer, which began in 1993, has shown that the medicine is capable of controlling cancer cells, boosting patients' immune systems and alleviating side effects from chemotherapy or radio therapy. It is also believed to improve the quality of patients' lives and prolong their life span, Wang said.

Approved by the State Drug Administration, the medicine was put into official production recently at the Tianjin Traditional Chinese Medicine Pharmaceutical Factory.

The factory plans to spend 15 million yuan (US$1.8 million) to produce Zilongjin tablets this year.

Annual production value of the medicine is expected to reach 50 million yuan (US$6 million) to 100 million yuan (US$12 million) by 2004, said Liu Wenwei, director of the factory.

"We are also making efforts to open overseas markets for the product, though we need some time to increase the popularity of traditional Chinese medicine in the Western world," said Mu Yuxin, a marketing manager in the Tianjin factory.

The initial target for overseas sales of this product is Asia, where sales are expected to reach 5 million yuan (US$604,000) this year, Mu said.

The factory has agreed to cooperate with two companies in Japan and the Philippines to sell the medicine in local markets.

The Beijing Ruihairui Science and Technology Co., Ltd. has received permission to act as an agent for the sales and development of Zilongjin tablets overseas, including Canada, the Republic of Korea, Australia and China's Taiwan Province.

(China Daily March 26, 2002)

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