CAM PoliticsChinese Medicine

How long does it take to get a CAM to market?

In a previous post I quoted from a Chinese medicine website that proclaimed “after sifting through more than 1,000 plants for 13 years, the researchers found 150 herbs with medicinal properties that appeared active in fighting HIV … From there, they selected the bark from white mulberry roots and four other Chinese plants as basic elements of their compound drug.”

The first study of this drug (compound SH) was published in 2004. If we assume it took one year to complete and publish this study plus 13 years of “sifting,” that comes to 14 years. And now, two years later, there is still nothing to show for the effort.

By comparison, the HIV/AIDS pandemic began in 1981 and the first drug to treat it, AZT (zidovudine), followed in 1986 … 5 years later.

Maybe there is something to be said for the profit motive followed by pharmaceutical companies.

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.