BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – Lianhua Qingwen had long been introduced into the country as the COVID pandemic raged since early this year.
On 24 April, the Philippine News Agency reported the filing of charges by the National Bureau of Investigation against Chinese national Shia Jianchuan who was caught “in the act of selling unregistered medicine which he claims to be a cure for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).”
The report added Jianchuan yielded six boxes of the drugs, which he allegedly sold at PHP240,000 per box with each box containing 400 packs of 24 capsules per pack.
The packages of the medicine bear Chinese character markings and English markings “Linhua Qingwen Jiaonang”.
The drug was being peddled using the social media app WeChat, the report added.
Yesterday, major news outlet ABS-CBN reported that the Chinese embsssy in the country announced thst the Food and Drug Administration had approved the use of Lianhua Qingwen.
What do we know so far about this supposed cure?
The only advisory as of this writing from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration about Lianhua Qingwen Jiaonang is Advisory 2020-767 issued 5 May 2020 by Dir. General Rolando Domingo.
It said the product had not gone through the registration and testing process of the FDA, the lead office that tests and approves drugs that go out on the Philippine market.
The advisory also said the FDA cannot guarantee the quality and safety when the “violative product” is used.
resident Duterte had earlier said this month that China will be making a cure available by December, this year.
Mainstream news outfits had different stories about the supposed cure.
Television giant GMA News posted 13 August 2020 a story headlined “FDA, inaprubahan na ang paggamit ng lianhua qingwen na gamot sa COVID-19 na galing China (FDA approves use of lianhua qingwen as cure for CoViD-19).”
The link opens to a segment of Unang Balita, in which a female newscaster said the FDA has yet to study the product.
CNN’s local affiliate, on the other hand, reported that the FDA did approve the product, “…a traditional Chinese medicine called Lianhua Qingwen, but not for COVID-19 treatment.”
An excert of the report says:
“FDA Director General Eric Domingo told CNN Philippines on Wednesday that the drug should only be used as indicated in the Certificate of Product Registration, a copy of which was released by the Chinese Embassy in Manila.
It states that the Lianhua Qingwen capsule got the government’s greenlight on August 7 as a “traditionally used herbal product [that] helps remove heat-toxin invasion of the lungs, including symptoms such as fever, aversion to cold, muscle soreness, stuffy and runny nose.”
In China, Lianhua Qingwen is used to treat mild to moderate cases of COVID-19.
“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 Chinese Embassy said in its statement.”
NO ADVISORY YET FROM DOH
Here, government physician Grace Tan said the local health office is waiting for an official advisory from the Department of Health confirming the approved use of the medicine.
Tan is spokesperson of the local inter-agency task force om emerging and Infectious diseases here.
Among the first to report on the medicine is China Global Television News or CGTN which reported in May that the capsule has been “proven effective.”
The story quoted “China’s top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan” as having told overseas Chinese students in a webinar.
The report said further
“It’s the first time in the world that we have enough evidence to prove Lianhua Qingwen capsule is effective and can help patients recover,” Zhong said, adding they have just finished an experiment and the results are promising and will soon be published.
Zhong said that, according to the experiment, the traditional Chinese medicine can weakly inhibit the virus and repair cell injuries and inflammation caused by the virus. For patients showing mild symptoms, Lianhua Qingwen would be more effective. (Read: Expert: Chinese medicine Lianhua Qingwen capsule proven effective for COVID-19)
In terms of research, one paper found on the US-based National Institutes of Health titled “Efficacy and safety of Lianhuaqingwen capsules, a repurposed Chinese herb, in patients with coronavirus disease 2019: A multicenter, prospective, randomized controlled trial” by researchers Ke Hu, Wei-jie Guan, […], and Nan-shan Zhong
The researchers concluded: “In light of the safety and effectiveness profiles, LH capsules could be considered to ameliorate clinical symptoms of Covid-19.”
DNX will report more soon on other researches conducted on the supposed COVID cure.
WAIT FOR ADVISORIES
For his part, local IATF chair and Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran said the public should wait for further advisories from competent bodies.
He said even if a supposed drug had been certified by the FDA, it does not mean it has curative effects.
Familiaran said the public should wait for further advice from the Word Health Organization and the Philippine Department of Health on the efficacy of the product.