CORRESPONDENCE

Regulate prescription of Chinese medicines

Naval Medical University of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army, Shanghai, China.
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Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China.

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Shanxi Grand Hospital, Taiyuan, China.

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Problems with prescriptions for traditional Chinese medicines (TCMs) threaten to create a chasm between the Chinese government’s medical reforms and their outcome (see Nature 551, 552–553; 2017).

Prescriptions for TCMs are unsupervised in China. Excessive amounts have long been prescribed for clinicians’ financial gain. They often involve high-risk injections of unknown efficacy. And some 70% of TCMs are prescribed by untrained practitioners, with almost half of all prescribed medicines proving ineffective (see go.nature.com/2doqbcz; in Chinese).

Correct diagnosis is essential for successful treatment with TCMs. If the indications on the label are used as the only guide, TCMs will not improve patients’ health and may even aggravate their conditions.

In addition to improving the quality of TCMs, the Chinese government must regulate prescription practices. It should set up a prescription-review system to prevent misuse and ensure that all clinicians are formally trained in TCM.

Nature 553, 405 (2018)

doi: 10.1038/d41586-018-01079-1

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