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Pilot Program to Lift Ban on Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctors in Pharmacies

A ban on doctors of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) treating patients in drugstores is set to be lifted after six years.

China will start a pilot program from next month to boost traditional Chinese medicine by allowing TCM doctors to treat patients directly at drugstores, said Xu Zhiren, a senior official with the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SATCM) at a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday.

TCM doctors treating patients at drugstores has been practiced in China for nearly 2,000 years, but it was banned in 2001 after some drugstores' illegally over-sold drugs and medical apparatus to patients under the disguise of free treatment provided by TCM doctors in their drugstores.

"We'll have strict procedures to select the qualified drugstores and TCM doctors," he stressed.

The pharmacy shops should have independent treatment rooms and at least 400 kinds of traditional Chinese herbs, he said, noting drugstores can make applications to local TCM administrations before Nov. 30.

Qualified practitioners should have at least five years' clinic working experience, he said, adding doctors will only be allowed to prescribe traditional Chinese medicines.

He stressed "doctors are banned from over-selling medicines to patients and the licenses of serious violators will be revoked".

From December to next March, the local TCM administrations are required to supervise the operations of the approved drugstores and doctors, and make a summary report to the state administrations next April.

"The program will enable TCM doctors to better play their roles and to satisfy people's needs for TCM services," he said.

The pilot program will be carried out in Shijiazhuang of Hebei Province, Shenyang of Liaoning Province, Qiqihar of Heilongjiang Province, Zhangping of Fujian Province, Nanchang of Jiangxi Province, Luoyang of Henan Province, Changsha of Hunan Province, Shenzhen of Guangdong Province and Baoji of Shaanxi Province.

(Xinhua News Agency November 8, 2007)

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