November 5-6, 2011 China, Shandong Province – The 6th Forum on Development of China’s Growing Pharmaceutical Companies was held in Jinan City, Shandong Province. Although the word pharmaceutical is listed in the title of the event, it was not a pharmaceutical conference. The focus was on herbal health products and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), which is considered medicine in China. Because of this distinction, it is common for Chinese companies that produce herbal and other dietary supplement ingredients to have the wording pharmaceutical or biotech in their name.

The association’s executive director Jeff Crowther was invited by the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies to give a presentation on the U.S. dietary supplement market. The two-day conference attracted over 1,000 attendees including industry leaders, experts and government officials from China and other countries.

China has been successfully practicing TCM along side western medicine for decades. However, the integration of TCM into the mainstream else where in the world

has been problematic to say the least. For example, the U.S. has a fairly well developed TCM industry in terms of number of colleges offering courses and number of licensed practitioners. However, the lack of integration and acceptance into the mainstream medical system has kept TCM at the fringes of the U.S. healthcare system. This is unfortunate because TCM is extremely cost effective and treats a variety of medical conditions. It also succeeds in lessening the symptoms of many chronic diseases where western medicine falls short.

The conference focused on addressing why TCM continues to be underutilized or ignored by many western healthcare systems and how might the TCM community work to encourage its integration globally. As mentioned early, TCM is a cost effective system. However, because many countries do not reimburse for TCM treatments, patients are left to pay out of pocket thus defeating TCM’s cost effective advantage. In order for TCM to be accepted mainstream there has to be insurance reimbursement to make it more financially attractive to patients. It should also be considered as one of the first lines of treatment for less serious and/or chronic diseases. The conference also discussed herbal health products, quality assurance standards and updates on the TCM Federation’s global initiatives.

On the last day of the conference, the entire group made a pilgrimage to the city of Qufu about two hours from Jinan, which is the ancestral home of Confucius. Crowther took part in the celebration to honor China’s most influential thinker.


Crowther commented on his experience in Shandong: “This was one of the largest groups of people I ever had the opportunity to speak to about the U.S market and dietary supplement regulations. I’m honored to be able to represent the U.S. natural health product industry at so many events in China. The continuous sharing of information with China’s industry and government leaders is exactly what we need to do to encourage reform and the creation of a more open and transparent regulatory system in China.  The trip to Qufu was amazing. The
streets were closed and the whole city seemed to gather at the Temple of Confucius to pay respects. As a foreigner, the herbal conference together with the celebration in Qufu gave me a huge dose of Chinese culture all wrapped into two wonderful days.”



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