The pharmaceutical industry should take advantage of traditional medicines, Truong Quoc Cuong, director of the Drug Administration of Viet Nam, told Nong Thon Ngay Nay (Countryside Today) newspaper.
The national pharma-ceutical industry development strategy wants the pharmaceutical industry to be able to meet 80 per cent of the country's medicine demand by 2020. Do you think this goal can be achieved when the country's pharmaceutical industry depends so much on raw material imports?
There is the fact that Viet Nam has to import 90 per cent of its pharmaceutical materials. I have to say that materials for western medicine production are not a strong point for Viet Nam and many other countries. Even the US has to import nearly 90 per cent of their raw pharmaceutical materials. In order to solve the problem, the Government assigned the Ministry of Health to develop the Vietnamese traditional medicine industry, which could become a competitive advantage for us.
In the future, Viet Nam could produce rich medicinal sources for the pharmaceutical sector if we could produce and bring into the market a few hundred of the total 4,000 plant species that have been used for traditional medicine. This could give us a big advantage, because the industry could provide products unique to our country.
The Traditional Medicine Department under the Ministry of Health found in an inspection that many raw materials being used did not meet standards. How can we produce good products if we cannot control the quality of raw materials?
Yes, there was a problem in the past. We have spent a long time developing oriental medicine in the country, which uses plants from China and other countries, as well as Viet Nam, but we haven't spent as much time on Vietnamese traditional medicine. Medicinal plants planted in the right soil and harvested in a timely manner will produce the best products. Good-quality input materials will help us produce standardised products.
However, we haven't paid enough attention to the development of Vietnamese traditional medicine. We've just used oriental medicine for treatment and imported raw materials, but we haven't done a good job controlling or standardising their quality.
How do you think we should develop the country's Vietnamese traditional medicine industry?
South Korea, for example, is world-famous for its ginseng and Lingzhi mushrooms. Viet Nam currently has more than 4,000 traditional medicinal plant species, but Europe doesn't grow these plants due to their different climate conditions. Many of our species have been included on lists of rare and valuable plants, such as Ngoc Linh and Vu Diep ginsengs, and red pine.
We have a plan to standardise input materials to improve output and product quality. Co-operation between the media and scientists, farmers, managers and entrepreneurs will be necessary for the development of drugs made from Vietnamese traditional medicine materials. — VNS