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Taiwan-developed Chinese medicine for COVID-19 nearing approval

Source: CNA news

A Taiwan-developed Chinese medicine formula used alongside Western medicine to treat COVID-19 patients could be approved for use in Taiwan as early as this week, according to a senior official at the Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW).

The medicine, known as NRICM 101, was developed last year by the MOHW's National Research Institute of Chinese Medicine and a team of clinical practitioners using a mixture of 10 traditional ingredients.

Since then, Taiwan's Tri-Service General Hospital, Chang Gung Memorial Hospital and several other medical institutions have used the formula as part of a combined therapy for some COVID-19 patients, with largely positive results, according to the ministry.

Ko Fu-yang (柯富揚), secretary-general of the National Union of Chinese Medical Doctors' Association, explained to CNA Tuesday that the formula consists of concentrated amounts of 10 Chinese medicine ingredients which are already approved for use in Taiwan.

To date, eight local drugmakers have received permission to manufacture the medicine for export, Ko said, and it has been selling well as a dietary supplement in Europe and the United States, though it has not been approved for medicinal use in either jurisdiction.

Of those companies, two have also applied for permission to sell it as a medicine in Taiwan, he said.

According to sources at the companies, Ko said, Health Minister Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) approved the medicine under an emergency use authorization (EUA) one to two months ago, but has yet to grant the domestic drug permit that is needed before it can go on sale.

On Monday, the ministry decided at a meeting that under the EUA, any company which has received permission to export NRICM 101 could also apply to sell it domestically, Ko said.

When asked about the matter, Vice Minister of Health and Welfare Shih Chung-liang (石崇良) confirmed that the two companies which have applied could also be granted special permission to sell the medicine under the Pharmaceutical Affairs Act, possibly as early as this week.

Despite the medicine's pending approval, Ko cautioned that people should not flock to their local Chinese medicine clinics to request it, but should instead follow government guidelines if they are experiencing possible COVID-19 symptoms.

(By Chiang Hui-chun and Matthew Mazzetta)


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