China Covid-19 tsar pushed treatments without revealing business ties

One of China’s high authorities well being officers has repeatedly promoted Covid-19 treatments included in Beijing’s official therapy protocol for the illness with out disclosing his hyperlinks with the producers.

Epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan was appointed to go an knowledgeable group on the National Health Commission, the physique accountable for formulating China’s well being coverage, at first of the pandemic and is taken into account a hero within the nation after managing the Sars epidemic in 2003.

The NHC publishes an official protocol that advises on Covid-19 therapies and medicines and is thought to be the therapy “bible” by medical doctors and native governments throughout China, in line with Jin Dong-Yan, a virologist on the University of Hong Kong.

But Zhong has shut ties to the businesses behind a number of the therapies, which he has promoted in scientific journals and in public talks with out mentioning these relationships.

“It’s one thing to propose something to be included in the treatment guidelines based on evidence, but it’s another thing if you have a commercial interest in proposing the inclusion, because the latter suggest a conflict of interest you should avoid,” stated Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for world well being on the Council on Foreign Relations think-tank.

Philip Chan, a committee member of Pharmacists Connect, a Hong Kong organisation that represents the sector, added: “If [Zhong] is promoting products, he should explain clearly the interests that he has with . . . the company behind the product.”

There isn’t any suggestion that Zhong has behaved illegally and he isn’t the one public well being official in China who works with the non-public sector. But his excessive profile and affect over the nation’s response to the pandemic means the overall inhabitants observe his recommendation, in line with Huang.

Zhong and the NHC didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Zhong Nanshan’s connections to Tianjin Chase Sun Pharmaceutical

Zhong Nanshan is one of the most celebrated health professionals in China and was awarded the Medal of the Republic, the highest state honor
Zhong Nanshan is among the most celebrated well being professionals in China and was awarded the Medal of the Republic, the best state honour, by President Xi Jinping © AP


Zhong turns into a director of Tianjin Hongri Jiandakang Pharmaceutical Technology Co, wherein Tianjin Chase Sun Pharmaceutical Co holds a 12.5% stake. Zhong Nanshan’s medical basis additionally holds a 6.25% stake in Tianjin Hongri Jiandakang Pharmaceutical Technology Co

janUARY 2020

Zhong initiates a analysis challenge on utilizing Xuebijing, a Chinese conventional medication produced by Tianjin Chase Sun Pharmaceutical Co, to deal with Covid-19. On January 27 2020, the injection is included within the NHC’s official therapy steerage

julY 2021

Zhong writes about the advantages of utilizing Xuebijing to deal with Covid-19 in Chinese Critical Care Medicine, a scientific journal

Xuebijing, a standard Chinese medication made by Shenzhen-listed Tianjin Chase Sun Pharmaceutical, was added to the NHC’s protocol for treating Covid-19 in January 2020. The firm’s share value has subsequently risen about 48 per cent, boosting it inventory market capitalisation by Rmb6bn ($931mn).

According to an article from the newspaper of the Chinese Medical Doctor Association, the main skilled physique, Xuebijing was included within the NHC’s therapy protocol after Zhong proposed to analysis its effectiveness.

Zhong has continued to advertise the therapy.

“Preliminary results show [Xuebijing is] effective . . . It not only relieves symptoms but also reduces death rates,” Zhong stated at a well being occasion held by Tencent, the know-how group, in April 2020.

Zhong co-authored a research about the advantages of utilizing Xuebijing in Chinese Critical Care Medicine, a peer-reviewed scientific journal, final 12 months. “Conventional therapy combined with Xuebijing injection can significantly improve the . . . clinical prognosis of patients with severe” Covid-19, the research stated.

But Zhong didn’t declare that he’s a director of Tianjin Hongri Jiandakang Pharmaceutical Technology, an organization wherein Xuebijing producer Tianjin Chase Sun Pharmaceutical has a 12.5 per cent stake, in line with Tianjin Chase Sun’s monetary reviews and company data.

Zhong Nanshan Medical Foundation of Guangdong Province, a charity based in 2011 that conducts medical analysis and public well being actions, additionally holds a 6.25 per cent stake in Tianjin Hongri Jiandakang. Yao Xiaoqing, Tianjin Chase Sun’s chair and authorized consultant, is a director of Tianjin Hongri Jiandakang.

Tianjin Chase Sun Pharmaceutical, Tianjin Hongri Jiandakang Pharmaceutical Technology and Chinese Critical Care Medicine didn’t reply to a request for remark.

Zhong Nanshan’s connections to Shijiazhuang Yiling

Lianhua Qingwen, a Chinese traditional medicine, includes ingredients such as honeysuckle, liquorice root, apricot seed and forsythia
Lianhua Qingwen, a Chinese conventional medication, contains components equivalent to honeysuckle, liquorice root, apricot seed and forsythia © ChinaPictures by way of Reuters Connect


Shijiazhuang Yiling donates Rmb130,000 to Zhong Nanshan’s Medical Foundation


Zhong joins a analysis centre based by Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical. One of the centre’s tasks is to analysis Lianhua Qingwen


Zhong and Shijiazhuang Yiling’s Wu Yiling open a separate joint analysis centre, an initiative of Shijiazhuang Yiling and Guangzhou Medical University, the place Zhong beforehand served as president

FEBruary 2020

Shijiazhuang Yiling donates Lianhua Qingwen capsules value Rmb148,000 to Zhong Nanshan’s Medical Foundation

MAY 2020

Zhong co-authors an instructional paper on the effectiveness of Lianhua Qingwen with Jia Zhen-hua, Wu’s son-in regulation, for Phytomedicine

Zhong has additionally extolled the advantages of one other conventional Chinese medication referred to as Lianhua Qingwen, which was added to the official protocol on January 27 as a Covid-19 therapy.

The therapy is made by Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical, a Shenzhen-listed firm whose inventory has since risen about 146 per cent, buoying its market capitalisation by greater than Rmb26bn.

Lianhua Qingwen “is effective in treating mild and moderate [Covid] symptoms. Not only domestically, we can also promote it overseas”, Zhong stated on the Tencent occasion.

Two containers of the product have been distributed to all Hong Kong residents throughout a latest Omicron outbreak that swept by way of town.

Zhong has a longstanding relationship with Shijiazhuang Yiling and Wu Yiling, its billionaire founder. The firm donated Rmb130,000 to the Zhong Nanshan Medical Foundation in 2013 and Zhong and Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical signed a “strategic co-operation” settlement to analysis the advantages of Lianhua Qingwen two years later.

In 2019, Zhong and Wu opened a separate joint analysis centre, an initiative of Shijiazhuang Yiling and Guangzhou Medical University, the place Zhong beforehand served as president.

Zhong co-authored a paper in May 2021 on the effectiveness of Lianhua Qingwen with Jia Zhenhua, Wu’s son-in-law, for Phytomedicine, a scientific journal owned by Dutch tutorial writer Elsevier, with out disclosing that the 2 have been linked to the corporate. “Our findings indicated that Lianhua Qingwen capsules could be recommended to patients with Covid-19 for reducing the symptom burden and improving clinical outcomes,” the paper’s authors wrote.

The journal added a correction following complaints from lecturers to clarify Zhong’s ties to Jia however didn’t point out his hyperlinks to Shijiazhuang Yiling.

“After being made aware of concerns regarding insufficient declaration of potential competing interests regarding this paper, the journal investigated,” Elsevier stated. “As a result of the investigation, the editor in chief approved the published corrigendum.”

Phytomedicine declined to touch upon why it didn’t make clear Zhong’s hyperlinks to Shijiazhuang Yiling.

Shijiazhuang Yiling confirmed it had made donations to the muse however stated it was a charity and Zhong’s private pursuits have been “irrelevant”. The firm added that Zhong didn’t obtain any funding for the strategic co-operation settlement to review Lianhua Qingwen.

“It’s a problem because these people now have a personal financial stake in the findings of the study,” stated Trish Greenhalgh, a well being sciences professor on the University of Oxford who has revealed analysis displaying that research on Lianhua Qingwen and Xuebijing haven’t but proved they’re efficient Covid therapies.

The US Food and Drug Administration has stated claims that Lianhua Qingwen may forestall or deal with Covid have been “not supported by competent and reliable scientific evidence”.

Zhong Nanshan’s connections to Asclepius Meditec

Asclepius Meditec has used Zhong Nanshan’s endorsement to advertise their Hydrogen Oxygen Generator with Nebulizer, a respiratory medical device, as a treatment for Covid-19.
Asclepius Meditec has an endorsement from Zhong Nanshan to promote a nebuliser as a therapy for Covid-19 © Asclepius Meditec


Zhong begins serving as a scientific adviser to Asclepius Meditec


Zhong says in an commercial posted on Asclepius Meditec’s web site that hydrogen remedy can complement different therapies for tumours

February 2020

Zhong endorses Asclepius Meditec-made nebuliser for the inhalation of hydrogen/oxygen blended fuel at a press convention held by Guangzhou Medical University

march 2020

Zhong endorses the nebuliser at a European Respiratory Society webinar and the corporate posts the related clips on its web site

june 2020

Zhong co-authors a scientific paper that finds scientific advantages for utilizing Asclepius Meditec’s gadgets to deal with Covid-19

Zhong has additionally advisable using a nebuliser made by Asclepius Meditec, a Chinese system maker, that helps sufferers to inhale a mixture of Hydrogen and Oxygen to deal with coronavirus. The therapy was added to the official protocol in March 2020.

Zhong is an official adviser to the corporate and his endorsement is utilized in its promoting for the product.

He co-authored a paper in June 2020 within the Journal of Thoracic Disease, the place he’s editor-in-chief, that discovered there have been scientific advantages in utilizing Asclepius Meditec’s system however didn’t disclose his hyperlinks to the corporate.

Zhong co-authored a separate paper within the journal Engineering in October 2020 which said that research he co-wrote on Lianhua Qingwen and the nebuliser have been causes for his or her inclusion in China’s official therapy protocol. Zhong didn’t declare that he’s an official adviser to the corporate.

Asclepius Meditec, The Journal of Thoracic Disease and The Engineer declined to remark.

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