Drugmaker brands Chinese herbal product as effective against COVID-19

Published (HKT): 2021.04.23 05:25

The chairperson of a Guangzhou drugmaker was criticized for spreading rumors regarding one of its Chinese herbal medicines, and for alleged false promotion of a product.

Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals Corporation chair Li Chuyuan openly stated this month that its product Isatis, also known as Woad Root, worked in preventing COVID-19.

“If you drink Woad Root from Baiyun Mountain, you won’t even need to wear a mask,” Li claimed at a forum on April 19. “This is why I’m not wearing a mask today. This proves that Chinese medicine works.”

Li’s statement goes against information released by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that people who have been vaccinated must continue to wear a mask indoors or in crowded areas. The only way to keep the pandemic at bay is to “prevent imported cases and to keep the spread low internally,” the center says.

The April forum was not the first time the herbal medicine had been lauded as being able to keep the virus away. A document titled “Baiyun Mountain Isatis compound found effective against COVID-19” spread like wildfire on the internet in October last year, causing a buying frenzy of the product. The stock of the medicine’s major manufacturer, Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals subsidiary Guangzhou Baiyunshan Pharmaceutical Holdings Co, rose rapidly as a result.

A mainland Chinese lawyer said that Li’s claim about having no need for a mask after drinking the herb could be considered as spreading false information for the sake of promoting a product, as there was no scientific research to confirm it. Such claims could also mislead the public, the lawyer said.

Mainland media had tried to contact Guangzhou Pharmaceuticals for comment, but no one picked up the phone.

This was also not the first time Li had uttered such unfounded statements.

In December 2017, he said that drinking the herbal tea Wong Lo Kat, another brand under the company, could “increase one’s lifespan by around 10%, according to the State High-tech Development Plan.”

In 2018, Li bragged about a product that could allegedly help with sexual dysfunction, saying it had gone from being “a medicine to a necessity for sexual enjoyment.”

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