FDA approves sale of ‘traditional medicine’ used in China as COVID-19 treatment

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2020 07:42 PM | Updated as of Aug 12 2020 07:48 PM

MANILA — The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines on Wednesday announced that a traditional medicine used in China for COVID-19 treatment was approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

“The Chinese Embassy in the Philippines is glad to learn that the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Chinese drug #LianHuaQingWen produced by one of China’s renowned Traditional Chinese Medicine (#TCM) manufacturers, Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., making the drug formally registered as TCM in the Philippines,” the Embassy said in a social media post.

“This marks an important progress in the entry of TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) products into the Philippine market, which we welcome.”

FDA director-general Eric Domingo confirmed this with ABS-CBN News.

“It can now be sold, prescribed and used in the Philippines,” he said in a message.

Asked if it meant that the Lianhua Qingwen capsules were safe and effective, Domingo said, “Yes. As traditional medicine.”

The Certificate of Product Registration shared by the Embassy also did not mention its use as COVID-19 treatment.

Instead, it states that it is traditionally used to “remove heat-toxin invasion of the lungs, including symptoms such as fever, aversion to cold, muscle soreness, stuffy and runny nose.”


Although it is not yet approved as a COVID-19 treatment in the Philippines and in other countries, the Embassy said that “Lianhua Qingwen Capsule is an approved #COVID19 treatment for mild and moderate cases in China.”

Other territories that approved its use are Hong Kong, Macao, Brazil, Indonesia, Canada, Mozambique, Romania, Thailand, Ecuador, Singapore and Laos PDR.

“It is our sincere hope that its entrance into the Philippine market will contribute to the fight against the spread of COVID-19 in this country and help the patients with mild and moderate symptoms recover,” the Embassy said.

The Embassy also reminded consumers to only purchase and consume authentic traditional Chinese medicine produced by qualified pharmaceutical manufacturers. It said it “hopes that TCM would play a bigger role to support the efforts of the Philippine government and its people to fight against COVID-19 until the final victory.”

Back in May, the FDA warned against the purchase of Lianhua Qingwen since it was not yet registered in the Philippines.

The FDA confirmed in July that the company behind the product already applied for its registration.

Although it is a traditional medicine, the FDA said it will still need a doctor or a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner to prescribe the capsule.

A South China Morning Post article previously said that while such traditional medicine has become part of China’s standard therapy for COVID-19 patients and even sent to Chinese students abroad, “Most Western-trained scientists and doctors are still skeptical about the efficacy of the traditional remedies, as they have not passed rigorous clinical trials that could serve as evidence in modern medicine.”