China has launched a new funding program that will have a special focus on the safety of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) injections, the Ministry of Science and Technology announced on Thursday.
"TCM injections have serious safety problems," said Ye Zuguang, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences. A 10-year study by the professor found that more than 70 percent of negative responses in TCM are from injections. And about 80 per cent of these responses are due to allergies, Ye said. "The problem is that we've consistently failed to find a good methodology to help with a better transfer of animal test results to human trials."
Qian Zhongzhi of China Pharmacopoeia Committee said the root cause of the problem was the complicated make-up of TCMs. "There are a slew of components, each of which may cause allergic reactions for different people," he explained.
These injections are mostly used for cardiovascular diseases and inflammation. "Their efficacy in anti-virus treatment has proven to surpass western medicine," Qian said.
Wang Hongguang, director of China National Centre for Biotechnology Development, said the program would enable domestic scientists to investigate causes of two or three negative responses related to TCM injections in the next five years.
But TCM is just one target of the funding program in the next five to 10 years. "We will try to solve about 10 pressing technical problems during the period," Wang said. These include establishment of several world-level drug quality control standards and laboratories. "We will complete a set of medicine safety technology standards within five years, covering 10 to 20 TCMs," Wang said.
The ministry said substantial research would begin by the end of this year.
The problem of drug safety has been in the spotlight in recent years. In July, an antibiotic injection called Xinfu caused six deaths in the country. And in the same month, China revoked the license of another drug company, Qiqihar No 2 Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, for a bogus drug for gastric disorders that killed 11 people.
(China Daily October 20, 2006)