Thu, Nov 13, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Chinese-medicine doctors spark backlash

By Joy Su  /  STAFF REPORTER

Wu Ming-ling, left, a doctor at the Veteran's General Hospital, accompanied by Lei Yung-yao, the hospital's deputy director, yesterday.

PHOTO: GEORGE TSORNG, TAIPEI TIMES

Doctors and pharmaceutical experts of traditional Chinese medicine yesterday demanded redress for the damage caused by a public statement charging that hundreds of traditional Chinese drugs cause liver damage.

The National Union Association of Chinese Medical Doctors yesterday accepted the apology of Wu Ming-ling (吳明玲), a Veteran's General Hospital doctor who had warned against using traditional Chinese medication after having treated a one-year-old child with liver damage induced by an overdose of Chinese medication.

The clash between practitioners of Chinese and Western medicine stems from a recent ban on aristolochic acid, a herbal substance frequently found in Chinese medicine.

The ban has affected all Chinese medication and led to heavy reporting on the negative effects of Chinese drugs in the Chinese-language media.

"I apologize for what has happened," Wu said. "It is inevitable that there was some discrepancy between what I said and what the media reported. I suggest that we regularly hold meetings with Chinese medical doctors to facilitate communication."

While the association was willing to accept Wu's apology, National Union Association of Chinese Medical Doctors president Lin Jaung-geng (林昭庚) said that Wu had absolutly no right to pass the buck and blame the media for the warnings against Chinese medicine.

Wu's apology comes after the deputy director of the Veterans' General Hospital, Lei Yung-yao (雷永耀), had also apologized on Monday by bowing to members of the Chinese medical doctors association who had gathered at the hospital in protest.

Lin said that the association would be meeting on Sunday to decide if it should sue Wu for NT$100 million in compensation.

President of the Tainan Association of Chinese Medical Doctors Weng Kun-yen (翁坤炎) yesterday said, "According to regulations set forth by the Department of Health, you need to have 5,000 to 10,000 bedside diagnostic tests to publicly announce your findings. This applies whether you practice Chinese or Western medicine."

Another member of the National Union Association of Chinese Medical Doctors, Lin Yung-nung (林永農), said, "Why do doctors of Western medicine assume that they know anything about Chinese medicine. There is nothing wrong with doing research, but you should not publicize results if they are unconfirmed."

While the National Union Association of Chinese Medical Doctors was willing to accept Wu's apology, the National Chinese Medicine Association, an organization representing Chinese pharmaceutical companies and workers, said that they were determined to sue Wu.

They said that sales were a third of what they had been before the media warnings.

Chairman of the health department's Committee on Chinese Medicine and Pharmacy Lin I-hsin (林宜信) said that the health department is prepared to launch a five-year plan geared toward promoting safety standards in the use of Chinese medicine, confirming that the plan had been budgeted for the next fiscal year.

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