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IPR protection needed for Chinese herbal medicines

(Xinhua)

10:39, April 27, 2012

The extraordinary effects of Chinese herbal medicines have fueled foreign interest in launching research projects into the profitable and interesting field in recent years.

Xia Wen, director of the academic department of Guizhou Bailing Group Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., was on alert during a dinner with some Korean friends who tried to get a line on herbal medicines from the Miao nationality.

Several years ago, a prescription for curing colds that had been passed down through generations of people of the Miao nationality went overseas and was eventually patented by foreign companies, Xia recalled.

Bailing Group, a privately-run, listed company based in southwest China's Guizhou province, focuses on the research and development of Miao medicines. The company sees an annual turnover of about 800 million yuan ($127 million).

As one of the four major production areas for Chinese medicine, Guizhou boasts more than 4,800 kinds of Chinese medicine, 28 of which are under national protection and account for 58.8 percent of all state-protected medicines in China.

Therefore, the pharmaceutical industry has developed rapidly and become a mainstay industry in Guizhou, which has been dubbed the "West Medicine Valley."

Statistics from the Guizhou Provincial Traditional Chinese Medicine Administrative Bureau show that about 1,000 herbal prescriptions from the Miao and Dong nationalities have been collected, but no more than 200 of them have been developed and put into production.

Meanwhile, some prescriptions have gradually disappeared, resulting in a huge loss for the country.

"Most of the Miao medicines are herbal, but research and development remains at a primary processing level," said Xia.

Chinese medicine companies have become aware of the need to apply intellectual property protection to their products since herbal medicines have attracted attention from foreign companies.

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