Opportunities for Traditional Chinese Medicine products in Europe

Phytopharmaceuticals from TCM play virtually no role in the European pharma market. Only two products are authorized for the EU as herbal medicines; two others are limited to the United Kingdom market. These products are derived from individual plants and have been insufficiently researched before they were introduced. Therefore, they do not play a role in the daily routine of medical prescriptions in Europe, and they represent only a fraction of the phytopharmaceuticals available in the Asian markets. According to the Chinese government’s current White Paper on TCM 2016, more than 60,000 TCM drugs are licensed in China. The annual turnover amounted to approximately 107.5 billion euros, which corresponded to 28.55% of the total turnover of the Chinese pharmaceutical industry.


Until recently, TCM drugs were available via pharmacies in Germany as individual mixtures of granules or drop concentrates. However, pharmacies have ceased the marketing of these products because a new regulation means that they have to re-examine the identity of the original materials in the pharmacy. Associated costs make the sale of granules and drop concentrates unprofitable to the pharmacies.


Patients who want to obtain herbal TCM medicines have to rely on the personalized prescription of a TCM physician. Then, they have to purchase the raw herbs from a pharmacy and concoct the mixture at home. This exercise is time-consuming and associated with high financial costs that most of the population is unwilling to undertake.


Thus, there is a huge gap in the European drug market for simple and convenient dosage regimes of Chinese phytomedicine. Until now, no Chinese phytopharmaceutical company has managed to fill this gap. This is because market access strategies of the different companies were deficient or they did not meet the needs of the European population.