Traditional Chinese medicine maker expands amid rising overseas demand during pandemic

Photo taken on Feb. 28, 2021 shows Lianhua Qingwen traditional Chinese medicine capsules at a pharmacy in Kuwait City, Kuwait. (Photo: Xinhua)

A manufacturer of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) has accelerated its overseas registration process and expansion plans in response to surging global demand amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Despite continued difficulties obtaining approval in countries such as the United States and Australia, the number of overseas approvals issued for TCMs such as Lianhua Qingwen has quadrupled since the pandemic, insiders say. of the industry, which clearly indicates that TCM is gaining acceptance overseas.

Chinese herbal medicine manufacturer Yiling Pharmaceutical’s patented Lianhua Qingwen capsules have been recommended for the treatment of COVID-19 by some Chinese authorities and experts, making it the most frequently recommended patented Chinese medicine.

Growing demand for the drugs has come from parts of Australia where local residents and students, mostly Chinese, travel to stock Lianhua Qingwen, which played a role in epidemic prevention and control amid the increasing severity of viral infections, the Global Times has learned.

A Brisbane resident surnamed Chou is one of those stockpiling Lianhua Qingwen. She told the Global Times that she has about 10 packets at the moment and expects to receive another 10 packets of Lianhua Qingwen and Banlangen pellets in less than a week.

“The logistical hurdle means it takes us about a week to get the drug, with higher costs, but we are prepared to pay all the costs, given the growing severity of the situation in Australia,” Chou said. .

A Melbourne-based international student who asked to remain anonymous told the Global Times on Sunday that she had seen people asking to buy the drug and more friends were infected recently, compared to 2021 and 2020.

Another student said she stocked up on TCM and flew it from China to Australia in 2020. “I feel safer with Chinese medicine at hand,” she said .

While demand for TCM is surging during the pandemic, Lianhua Qingwen is still considered unapproved in some countries like Australia because it lacks the required clinical validation, according to media reports.

Some express delivery companies said that Lianhua Qingwen capsules or granules sent from China to Australia can be shipped by sea or air, but they are labeled as “sensitive goods” and therefore may be returned. , a social media account on Sina Weibo said on Saturday.

Lianhua Qingwen is not yet registered or approved for sale in the United States or Australia as a series of clinical trials need to be completed, a source at Chinese drug producer Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical told the Global Times on Sunday. supplier to Lianhua Qingwen, noting that this process usually takes many years.

Despite the difficulties, the number of overseas approvals for Lianhua Qingwen has quadrupled from the years before the COVID-19 outbreak, the company said.

Lianhua Qingwen has obtained registration approvals and import licenses in nearly 30 countries and regions around the world, including Canada, Russia and Singapore, Yiling Pharmaceutical said.

The company is actively lobbying for the registration and sale of Lianhua Qingwen capsules in Europe, the United States and other countries, in accordance with local laws and regulations.

The US FDA Phase II clinical trial of Lianhua Qingwen capsules has been completed, according to Yiling Pharmaceutical.

The company is expanding its capacity in response to growing demand. Yiling Pharmaceutical said on Sunday that the first phase of its 1.44 million square meter drug industrialization project in Hengshui, north China’s Hebei Province has been nearly completed, which will ensure adequate production.