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Results of Hong Kong Chinese Materia Medica Standards (Phase III) announced

     The Department of Health (DH) today (February 15) published reference standards for 28 commonly used Chinese herbs in Phase III of the Hong Kong Chinese Materia Medica Standards (HKCMMS).

     A DH spokesman said research work on the standards had been completed and the results of the reference standards and details of the test methods were set out in the HKCMMS Volume III.

     In establishing the standard for Chinese herbs, a key ingredient of proprietary Chinese medicines (pCm), the HKCMMS not only helps safeguard the safety and quality of pCm, but also provides the basis for further research on Chinese Materia Medica (CMM). With rising global interest in the use of Chinese medicines, a well established and internationally recognised standard on Chinese herbs, including the limits for heavy metals and pesticide residues, could also promote the international herbal trade.

     The research,commissioned by DH, aims to provide recommendations on the safety and quality reference standard of commonly used herbs in the local market. The criteria for selection of CMM for the research include:-

- common usage in the local community;
- international concern in respect of their safety and quality;
- high economic value in the local market; and
- priority being accorded to the CMM listed in the two schedules of the Chinese Medicine Ordinance.

     Research work was conducted by research teams from six local universities, namely City University of Hong Kong, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong Baptist University, the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and the University of Hong Kong (in alphabetical order).

     An International Advisory Board (IAB) comprising local, Mainland and overseas experts was appointed to advise on the research's principles, methodologies, parameters and analytical methods.  The Government Laboratory developed analytical methods for determination of heavy metals, pesticides residues and mycotoxins, and participated in inter-laboratory verification.  

     The State Food and Drug Administration as well as the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine of the People's Republic of China also provided valuable advice and support for the project.

     HKCMMS Phase III sets out the name, source, and description of the 28 herbs, methods of identification (including microscopic identification, thin-layer chromatography and high-performance liquid chromatographic fingerprinting).  

     The 28 herbs are Cortex Eucommiae, Cortex Mori, Fructus Evodiae, Rhizoma Gastrodiae, Fructus Forsythiae, Herba Taxilli, Radix Ophiopogonis, Radix Pseudostellariae, Radix Rehmanniae, Radix Panacis Quinquefolii, Spica Prunellae, Rhizoma Atractylodis Macrocephalae, Radix Puerariae Lobatae/Radix Puerariae Thomsonii, Semen Cassiae, Herba Leonuri, Medulla Junci, Rhizoma Anemarrhenae, Radix Scutellariae, Fructus Ligustri Lucidi, Radix Glehniae, Radix Polygalae, Rhizoma Belamcandae, Fructus Psoraleae, Herba Andrographidis, Bulbus Fritillariae Thunbergii, Bulbus Fritillariae Ussuriensis, Semen Vaccariae and Folium Ginkgo.

     DH will issue letters to Chinese medicines trade associations, wholesalers and manufacturers of Chinese medicines and representatives of laboratories, inviting them to briefing sessions to be held on March 9, 16 and 31, 2011 respectively.

     The standards for the 28 herbs will be put into use for a trial period of 12 months starting from April 2011.

     The Chief Executive highlighted in his 2009 Policy Address the importance of expediting the setting of standards for CMM commonly used in Hong Kong. To advance the development of Chinese medicine, coverage will be increased from the current 60 CMM to about 200 by 2012.  The remaining herbs will be covered in Phase IV and Phase V of the Project.

     The HKCMMS Volume III is accessible at the DH website (

     Limited copies of CDs containing HKCMMS Volume III can be obtained from the HKCMMS Office of Chinese Medicine Division on 2/F, Public Health Laboratory Centre, 382 Nam Cheong Street, Kowloon.

     Printed copies will be available for sale by the end of March 2011.

Ends/Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Issued at HKT 12:25


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