The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clarified that the Chinese traditional medicine it recently approved is “not a product for COVID-19 in the Philippines.”
FDA Director General Eric Domingo said that while the traditional medicine Lian Hua Qing Wen is used in China for mild COVID-19 patients, it is not registered in the country as an anti-COVID medicine.
“In the Philippines, we approved it as a traditional medicine,” Domingo told ANC in an interview Thursday.
“(Manufacturers) cannot put in the packaging that this is an anti-COVID product. There’s no medicine yet for us labeled as an anti-COVID product,” he added.
Lian Hua Qing Wen can be used by patients with respiratory tract infections and symptoms like difficulty in breathing, fever, muscle soreness, and runny nose, according to Domingo.
If patients have these symptoms or these symptom complex, the doctor can prescribe the medicine for them, Domingo said.
Domingo added that Lian Hua Qing Wen is a prescription medicine and therefore can only be brought in licensed pharmacies if prescribed by a doctor.
The medicine should likewise not be used for asymptomatic patients, according to Domingo.
“Not even our traditional Chinese medicine practitioners would prescribe it for asymptomatic (patients) and definitely, not for prevention. It’s usually for people with mild respiratory tract symptoms,” he reiterated.
The Chinese medicine also is not recommended for patients who are hypertensive, Domingo added.
The FDA director said that the approval of the Chinese medicine was not “sudden.”
“I think this has been here, it’s been applying for us since the start of the year,” he said.
Lian Hua Qing Wen underwent the usual registration process for traditional medicines, Domingo added.
When asked if the Lian Hua Qing Wen will be included in the Department of Health’s (DoH) protocol in treating mild COVID patients, Domingo said: “Right now, I don’t think so.”
“This is not approved as a COVID medicine here in the Philippines. It’s approved as a traditional medicine for people who have respiratory illness,” Domingo reiterated.
“To have it include in the DoH protocol will take a lot of health processes. It has to undergo health assessment, it has to be double-checked as a medicine,” he added.