Hong Kong’s traditional Chinese medicine industry gears up for GBA EJINSIGHT market

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A central government delegation recently visited Hong Kong to promote the 14th Five-Year Plan, calling on Hong Kong people to seize the opportunity to integrate into the country’s overall development. The “Chinese Medicine Highlands Building Plan in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (2020-2025)” proposed policies that benefit Hong Kong people and their businesses, and he industry expects more effective measures to be introduced.

When discussing the migration of talent to the Great Bay region, Huang Liuquan, deputy head of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Bureau of the State Council, encouraged practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine ( TCM) from Hong Kong to work in public medical facilities in the Greater Bay Area (GBA). At the end of last year, there were 10,422 TCM practitioners in Hong Kong. With many Hong Kong students returning after earning an undergraduate degree in TCM on the mainland, there is now a surplus of TCM practitioners. According to government projections, a surplus of around 1,600 TCM practitioners will be generated over the next decade. The Guangdong provincial government announced last month that the GBA is welcoming young people with vocational or related qualifications in TCM. This creates a new opportunity for Hong Kong graduates with a continental degree in TCM.

Expedite drug review and approval

In July, Our Hong Kong Foundation released a report titled “Strategic Collaborations between Hong Kong and Shenzhen in Biotechnology – Capitalizing on Opportunities in the Loop for Policy Innovations”. To accelerate the development of biotechnology in the GBA, especially in the Lok Ma Chau loop, the report recommended that the central government accelerate drug review and approval by bridging the gap between Hong’s regulatory systems. Kong and Shenzhen.

The central government recently announced that it will streamline mainland China’s registration and approval procedures for Hong Kong’s proprietary Chinese medicines (pCms) for external use. The new procedures will make pCms commonly used by Hong Kong people, such as white flower oil and medicated balm, more readily available in Guangdong province. Registration and approval of pCms for use in Hong Kong and Macao was previously reserved for the National Medical Products Administration, but the procedures will now be streamlined and delegated to the Guangdong Medical Products Administration. In terms of application material, data from a new round of clinical trials is no longer needed and only information on research and leads then submitted for registration in Hong Kong and Macao will be needed. The approval time has also been reduced from 235 days to 115 days.

Under the new policy, for pCms approved for external use by the Hong Kong Chinese Medicine Council and used in Hong Kong for more than five years, their registered owners can submit registration applications to Guangdong Medical Products. Administration, and approved products can be sold in the GBA.

According to the Hong Kong Department of Health, this policy is limited to the approximately 200 TCM manufacturers registered in Hong Kong, but does not apply to the thousands of wholesalers. The industry is hoping that the registration process could also be simplified for licensed wholesalers. Another concern is that the new procedures only cover pCm for external use and exclude those for internal use. One example is a manufacturer of pCms for internal use in Hong Kong. Its formulated granulated product was developed a few years ago, but approval across the border only came after two years of effort, resulting in slow sales growth on the continent. .

Additionally, the industry believes the Hong Kong government is lagging behind in approving Chinese drugs. At present, the Chinese Medicine Ordinance imposes stricter regulation of pCms made in Hong Kong by requiring good manufacturing practices for pCms, providing for the transition of pCms registration from “HKP” to at most strict “HKC”. However, one of the manufacturers of TCM applied for HKC certificates seven years ago and still has not received one for their pCm for external use. Without the new certificates issued by Hong Kong, it is doubtful that these pCm could benefit from the simplified approval procedures on the mainland.

Improve the Chinese Medicine Development Fund

In the 2018-2019 budget, the government allocated $ 500 million to the Chinese Medicine Development Fund, which aimed to provide financial support to the sector and improve its overall standards, including training talent for TCM hospitals. , sponsoring related scientific research and raising public awareness of TCMs. The Fund was launched in June 2019.

To support the reindustrialization of SMEs, the Hong Kong Productivity Council has helped the TCM sector to modernize its production and make it more competitive. The Office of Food and Health is currently reviewing the operation of the Fund, including the content and results of sponsored projects, with a view to making projects more effective and getting the best value from the Fund’s resources.

Both the central government and the Guangdong provincial government have formulated policies to promote the development of the TCM industry and make the GBA a TCM hub in the country. The Hong Kong government is also expected to speed up the TCM approval process and invest more resources to support the development of the industry, to allow a stagnant sector to thrive again.

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