The Chinese government has announced a far-reaching, 15-year program to modernize traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Already, the Chinese government has allotted CNY 1 billion ($130 million) for TCM R&D, and the total budget over the next five years is expected to range between CNY 3.7 billion and CNY 4.4 billion. This new program, which is supported by 16 Chinese ministries, differs in two significant ways from previous programs. The first element is a strong focus on earning international regulatory approval for TCM. The global market for Chinese herbal medicines has doubled in the last 10 years, and China hopes to globalize TCM by 2020. To this end, the new plan encourages clinical research on the safety and effectiveness of TCM, the improvement of manufacturing processes and bringing TCM regulations in line with international standards. The other notable departure from previous programs is the aim to research TCM’s traditional principles and approaches, rather than isolating and studying active ingredients on their own. This shift is a source of concern, as many observers believe that the basic theories behind TCM are inaccurate, and that scientific standards for studying TCM’s holistic approach are insufficient.

Source: Nature

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