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Clinical efficacy proof key for TCM advancement

By Wang Xiaoyu | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-09-26 14:12
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Zhang Junhua, head of the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine's evidence-based medicine center, is the newly-elected head of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies' clinical efficacy evaluation committee. [Provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Establishing a clinical assessment system tailor-made to traits of the traditional Chinese medicine and integrating it with international practices is the key to advancing TCM development, experts said on Saturday.

Zhang Junhua, head of the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine's evidence-based medicine center, said that high quality evidence of clinical efficacy is the bedrock for modernizing and industrializing the TCM field, as well as promoting these therapies around the globe.

Zhang is also the newly-elected head of the World Federation of Chinese Medicine Societies' clinical efficacy evaluation committee. He said the committee will strive to set up and improve evaluation methods that fit the characteristics and demands of TCM and put them into practices.

Zhang Boli, honorary president of the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, said there has been a lack of high-quality evidence to explain mechanisms of TCM treatment, and addressing this problem should be a major task of TCM modernization in the future.

"It is important to take note of clinical features of TCM medicines and come up with assessment criteria in a scientific and targeted manner," he said.

Zhang raised an example manifested during the COVID-19 epidemic. Drawing from frontline experiences in treating patients with TCM, Chinese experts had developed a core outcome set — a standardized set of outcomes that should be measured and reported in all clinical trials as a minimum requirement. The new outcome set includes the rate of mild patients becoming severe cases, which has now been adopted worldwide.

Liu Baoyan, chairman of the World Federation of Acupuncture-Moxibustion societies, said that integrating international norms for clinical efficacy evaluation with TCM remains a tough nut to crack. He also suggested using digital technologies, such as big data and artificial intelligence to help solve the issue.

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