Angry Doctor

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Two TCM practitioners suspended

... for practising Integrative Medicine?


Bonus Real-life Story

2 TCM practitioners suspended for using, having controlled medicine

The Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners Board has suspended the registration of two physicians.

The first is Huang Chunyun of Eu Yan Sang Specialist TCM Centre in Paragon.

A registered TCM physician and registered acupuncturist, Huang gave his patient capsules of medicine which contained substances not meant to be present in Chinese medicines.

The patient went into convulsions after consuming the medicine and had to be hospitalised.

In addition to the patient's complaint, the Health Sciences Authority also confirmed that Huang was charged in court with two counts of contravening Section 5 of the Poisons Act.

This was for selling without a licence capsules containing two poisons - glibenclamide and phenformin.

Huang was convicted and fined $3,000.

The TCM Practitioners Board later conducted a hearing on Huang's conviction, and decided to suspend his registration as a TCM physician and acupuncturist for two years, with effect from 21 March 2006.

In a media statement, Eu Yan Sang says the product distributed by Huang is not a product of Eu Yan Sang.

The company had first suspended Huang in June last year following an inquiry into his conduct.

On 9 January this year, Eu Yan Sang dismissed Huang for distributing a non-Eu Yan Sang product to a client, which was in contravention of the company's internal guidelines.

The second suspended TCM practitioner is Ong Yam Bing of Sheng He Health Products Department Store.

The registered TCM physician had returned from Batam with controlled medicinal products.

Ong was found to have on him 1,000 tablets of Phapros Amoxicillin Kaplet, 1,100 tablets of Pharpros Ampicilin 500 Kaplet, and 400 tablets of Primolut N containing Norethisterone.

He was prosecuted by the Health Sciences Authority under the Poisons Act, convicted, and fined $5,000.

The TCM Practitioners Board has suspended Ong's registration as a TCM physician for six months with effect from 21 July 2006. - CNA/ir


Perhaps they did not have enough faith in 'traditional' and 'natural' remedies?

Is phenformin considered 'heaty' or 'cooling'?

OK, enough gloating.


This is not the first time something like that happened, and it reveals certain prejudices.

Western doctors get into trouble for prescribing medicine non-judiciously all the time. But I've never heard of western doctors getting into trouble for advising patients to take herbal remedies.

The fact is Chinese 'herbal' medicines, Chinese 'proprietary' medicines (CPM) , and 'western' medicines are not subject to the same standards of regulation, or the same restrictions. You can find out more about regulation of herbal medicines and CPM and at the Health Sciences Authority site, or from this article (page 16 of the journal).

They all purport to be good for you. You put them inside or on you. So why the triple standards?

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7 Comments:

  • So two TCM practitioners get into trouble implies that TCM is bad, but western doctors running a vibrant Subutex wholesaling business means nothing?

    You do know that a chief ingredient for making Tamiflu is the Chinese star anise, right? But with a fancy name, it doesnt count as a herbal remedy I guess. Tamiflu is known to have serious side effects, but if the patient dies, it means nothing for western medicine, just tough luck for the patient.

    By Blogger singaporean, At August 27, 2006 10:56 am  

  • linked here from a fren's blog :)
    your entries are hilarious, read several of them on your archives and i'm lovin' it :D

    yar true, i think TCM can't even give panadol.

    By Blogger Welcome To My Life, At August 27, 2006 9:08 pm  

  • wtml,

    Thanks.

    By Blogger angry doc, At August 28, 2006 8:41 am  

  • singaporean,

    You misunderstand the point of the post, but you bring up some pointsof your own. Let me address them in turn.

    1. Western doctors selling Subutex does not 'mean nothing'. I have already posted about SMC's letter on their investigation of several doctors on this issue, and I shall follow-up on it too.

    2. In any case, two wrongs do not make a right.

    3. The point of my post was this: Legally speaking, a TCM practitioner who gives a patient say norethisterone is automatically guilty, even if it was indicated. Legally speaking, a western doctor who advises a patient to take say a phyto-oestrogen-containing herb is not guilty, even if it was not indicated.

    The unasked question here is: why?

    (It's just less fun when I have to ask the 'unasked' question.)

    4. Many western drugs use plant and animal products as their ingredients. The fact that Tamiflu is made from the Chinese star anise says nothing in itself about TCM. Just as if Tamiflu was made from the African balboa tree root, it would similarly not say anything about the efficacy of traditional African medicine.

    By Blogger angry doc, At August 28, 2006 8:49 am  

  • You guys may want to check out the advisory from the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) on use of Nutraceuticals.

    By Blogger Dr Oz bloke, At August 28, 2006 10:24 am  

  • Ok, indeed I missed the point. My apologies. Need to learn to read properly.

    By Blogger singaporean, At August 28, 2006 1:59 pm  

  • The thing about herbal medicines is that natural does not equals to safe. Yet many herbal medicines are sold outside without prescription. This can pose a danger to the public. I feel that herbal medicines should only be given by TCM practitioners as they are able to evaluate the patient and decide on what is best for the patient.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At August 28, 2006 8:01 pm  

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