FDA: Prescription no longer needed to buy Chinese drug Lianhua Qingwen

Published March 30, 2021, 6:12 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

The public can now buy the traditional Chinese drug Lianhua Qingwen from pharmacies without a doctor’s prescription, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Tuesday, March 30.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA)

In a House hearing on the government’s COVID-19 response, FDA Director-General Eric Domingo disclosed that the Dangerous Drug Board (DDB) has recently removed the Chinese drug from medicines it classifies as “dangerous drugs”.

“It has recently been delisted by the DDB as a dangerous drug…So hindi na po kailangan nong S2 prescription para po mabili ng pasyente (an S2 prescription is no longer necessary for a patient to purchase this),” Domingo told the House Committee on Health.

An S2 prescription is neeeded to purchase harmful medications and may only be given by physicians licensed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency — the DDB’s implementing arm.

Lian Hua contains ephedrine, one of the substance identified in the 1988 United Nations Convention against Illicit Traffic in Narcotics Drugs as one of precursors and chemicals for the manufacture of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, thus the need to control its use.

Ephedrine is also an of the components of the methamphetamine hydrochloride, more known in the Philippines as “shabu”, which is a prohibited drug.

The Chinese herbal drug has been registered with the FDA as a “traditional medicine” for pulmonary conditions, such as fever, cold, stuffy and runny nose.

Health officials, however, have previously clarified that this was not approved as a treatment for COVID-19 in the Philippines.

In China, it was approved for use in treating mild and moderate COVID-19 cases.