Clinical trial in Singapore for Lianhua Qingwen to treat Covid-19 under way

PHOTO: Facebook/Lianhua Qingwen capsule

SINGAPORE - A clinical trial is currently under way here to see if traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) Lianhua Qingwen Jiao Nang capsules can help in the treatment of some Covid-19 patients.

The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) said on Wednesday (April 20) that the purpose of the study is to assess what effect the pills, when given in addition to current standard medical treatment, may have on the time taken for fully vaccinated adults on home recovery with mild Covid-19 to recover from their symptoms.

The trial also aims to assess how the medicine may affect the time taken for someone to obtain a negative antigen rapid test (ART) result.

The randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled study was initiated by the Singapore Chung Hwa Medical Institution, and approved by HSA on Jan 18.

According to data from clinicaltrials.gov, a website run by the United States' National Library of Medicine, the study will involve about 300 participants and should be completed by December.

"Due to limited availability and prioritisation of approved anti-viral drugs (Paxlovid) to moderate and severe inpatients, validating TCM intervention (Lianhua Qingwen) as a good adjuvant treatment for local population on home recovery programme is important," said the trial's description on the website.

It added that the study's investigators have hypothesised that TCM intervention could shorten the time taken for eight major Covid-19 clinical symptoms to disappear by 1.5 times in patients with mild Covid-19, who are on home recovery.

"(The research) is aimed to assist policymakers in incorporating clinically proven TCM treatment for mild Covid-19 patients on home recovery programme, and establishing a guideline on TCM pandemic treatment protocol which is suitable to be integrated into the healthcare system," it added.

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The principal investigators of the study are Dr Zuraimi Mohamed Dahlan from Banyan Clinic @ JW and Dr Ong Sze Tat from Ubi Family Clinic and Surgery. The Straits Times has approached them for further comment.

Last November, HSA had warned against claims circulating on social media and in Telegram chat groups that Lianhua Qingwen products could be used to prevent or treat Covid-19.

At the time, HSA said: "To date, there is no scientific evidence from randomised clinical trials to show that any herbal product, including Lianhua Qingwen products, can be used to prevent or treat Covid-19."

It added: "HSA requires any product that claims to treat Covid-19, to have scientific evidence from controlled clinical studies to substantiate that such a product is safe and effective against Covid-19. Such a product must first be submitted to HSA to assess the scientific evidence and be registered before it can be supplied locally."

This article was first published in The Straits TimesPermission required for reproduction.