After weeks of criticism, Chinese bear bile producer Guizhentang faces a bumpier path for going public, as discussion over its listing attempt has continued to sizzle at the country's annual legislative session but little support has been found.
Xiao Wei, a Chinese lawmaker and an authority on the pharmaceutical industry, voiced straight opposition to the initial public offering (IPO) of Guizhentang Pharmaceutical Co Ltd, the southeast China company that harvests bile from live bears to use in its products.
It would be "inappropriate" for pharmaceutical companies that turn a profit selling bear bile to seek a listing in the capital market, said Xiao, who is a member of the Chinese Pharmacopoeia Commission and head of a state's key laboratory for traditional Chinese medicine.
"It could mean that they will extract more bile from live bears," said Xiao.
For nearly 3,000 years, bear bile has been used as an ingredient in TCM to cure eye and liver ailments.
"I only approve of the use of bear bile in the treatment of very rare or acute diseases, but I do not think it can be used that much in common diseases," Xiao said, adding that he believes the medical value of bear bile is "complicated and irreplaceable."
Guizhentang has been under fire for weeks since it was found to have resumed a plan to go public to expand its bile production. The company's last IPO attempt a year ago floundered amid fierce public opposition.
The firm allowed more than 100 reporters to visit its bear farm in February amid protests from the public and animal welfare activists, but this has done little to help quell criticism.