European Doctors Urge Stricter Controls On Chinese Medicine

The EU medical and scientific community on Wednesday demanded tighter controls on traditional Chinese medicine after the World Health Organization moved to legitimize ancient practices

The EU medical and scientific community on Wednesday demanded tighter controls on traditional Chinese medicine after the World Health Organization moved to legitimize ancient practices.
The Federation of European academies of Medicine and European Academies’ Science Advisory Council issued a five-page statement saying that the recent recognition of Chinese herbal and other remedies could trick national health services into using scant resources on unproven therapies.

“We recognize that the necessary reform of regulatory frameworks can take significant time, but it should be started,” the organizations said.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) is rooted in an ancient philosophical tradition. One of its basic principles is that vital energy, called qi, passes through the body, and irregularities in its flow can be cured with acupuncture, tai chi, herbal product ingestion, and other practices.

The statement argued that the current EU Directive on Traditional Herbal Medical Products was established to make sure that TCM was harmless, and did not include a requirement for demonstration of the effect.

“As recommended in our previous assessment of homeopathy… it would now be time to reassess the validity and value of continuing to allow these simpler regulatory approval categories to apply,” it added.

The regulations must codify diagnostic procedures, which are currently subjective and patient-based. The new rules should require that TCM procedures are evidence-based and demonstrate efficacy and safety, while the remedies should be labeled and marketed in a similar way to other health products.

“Evidence-based public health systems and medical insurance systems should not reimburse products and practices unless they are demonstrated to be efficacious and safe by rigorous pre-marketing testing,” it emphasized.

The European organizations admitted that TCM had long been an integral part of health services in some Asian countries. However, the business has since swollen to become a large industry estimated at $60 billion a year and has been growing by 10 percent annually.

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