Lianhua Qingwen, a non-prescription traditional Chinese medicine made available to local health authorities for the treatment of Covid-19, can be “safely used” in patients with the right health conditions, said today ( Monday) a health representative.
Lianhua Qingwen was developed by Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical in 2003 as a treatment for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and consists of 13 different ingredients, namely forsythia, Japanese honeysuckle flower, ephedra and isatis root .
The drug was recently donated by the Macau State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine and Hong Kong authorities, with local social services handing it over to local nursing homes for preventive stockpiling.
The drug will also be used in the event of a large-scale community outbreak in the SAR, with Dr Lei displaying the drug during a media visit to a makeshift hospital at the East Asian Games Dome.
“We will take into account the patient’s state of health. We also have traditional Chinese medicine doctors who can issue assessments on patients who qualify to receive this medicine. It is a safe drug, but there are people in health conditions who are not suitable to take it,” said Lei Wai Seng, medical director of Conde S. Januário Hospital and member of the new member of coronavirus response and coordination.
The recently released contingency plan for containing a large-scale local outbreak also states that local health authorities could administer two TCM drugs – Huoxiang Zhengqi Jiaonang and Lianhua Qingwen – depending on “the patient’s physical condition”.
But as for “clinically confirmed cases”, Western medicine will be responsible for “general care”, while TCM will play a complementary role in treatment, “in order to improve clinical efficiency”.
Lianhua Qingwen is recommended by the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China as an appropriate traditional Chinese medicine for the treatment of mild symptoms of fever, cough and fatigue caused by the Covid-19 coronavirus but has not been recommended by the health authorities of other countries. countries.
It was also endorsed by both Zhong Nanshan, an expert advising the Chinese government on the coronavirus, and Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam.
Lianhua Qingwen has obtained registration approvals and import licenses in nearly 30 countries and regions around the world, including Canada, Russia and Singapore, but mainly as traditional herbal products and not as preventive treatment for Covid-19.
In Australia, the drug was actually banned by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) because it contains ephedra, a key ingredient used to make methamphetamine.
“Ephedra can pose serious patient safety risks, including cardiac toxicity, irreversible eye damage and severe blood sugar depletion,” a TGA spokesperson said in March.
Ephedra – a low, evergreen shrub with small, scaly leaves – has a long history of medicinal use in China and India to treat colds, fevers, headaches, coughs, wheezing and wheezing. other conditions.
In November last year, Singaporean health authorities said the drug was not approved for the treatment of Covid-19 and issued an advisory against misleading claims about its effectiveness in treating or preventing coronavirus.
“There is no scientific evidence from randomized clinical trials to show that any herbal product, including Lianhua Qingwen products, can be used to prevent or treat COVID-19,” the notice reads.
In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration advises consumers against buying or using Lianhua Qingwen, stating that it has not been approved or cleared by the FDA and is misrepresented as safe and/or or effective for the treatment or prevention of COVID-19. 19, a similar position taken by Canadian authorities.
The Philippines FDA approved Lianhua Qingwen in August 2020 as a traditional herbal product that helps eliminate “heat and toxin invasion of the lungs, including symptoms such as fever, aversion cold, muscle aches, stuffy and runny nose”.
However, it is not registered as a COVID-19 drug and a doctor’s prescription is required for its use.
in Hong Kong, some 50,000 boxes of Lianhua Qingwen pills were provided among the Covid-19 supplies sent by the central government.
A version of the drug that was distributed in mainland China was initially not approved in Hong Kong, and local health officials raided pharmacies selling it as recently as February.
However, during the height of the territory’s Omicron wave, some lawmakers began to pressure authorities to offer exemptions to drug batches.
Chief Director of the Hong Kong Hospital Authority, Sara Ho, also said that the appropriate use of traditional Chinese medicine depends on the health and condition of each patient, with patients advised to consult a traditional Chinese doctor before taking such medications.
The city’s food and health secretary, Sophia Chan Siu-chee, also said that nearly one million packs of traditional Chinese medicines were to be distributed for anti-epidemic purposes, such as Lianhua Qingwen, Jinhua Qinggan and Huoxiang Zhengqi.