Led by Professor Bian Zhaoxiang, Associate Vice-President and Director of the Clinical Division of the School of Chinese Medicine, an international group of experts has published a recommendation for reporting clinical trials with Chinese medical formulas

(CONSORT-CHM Formulas 2017).

The recommendation was published in an internationally renowned journal, Annals of Internal Medicine. Three versions of the paper, in English, traditional Chinese and simplified Chinese, were published simultaneously online. This is the first time since the journal was first launched in 1927 to publish a paper with three versions, indicating that the international medical community attaches great importance to Chinese medicine research.

Professor Bian said: “Currently, tens of thousands of clinical trials have been conducted on Chinese herbal medicine formulas, but the quality of reporting is unsatisfactory. Inadequate reporting quality not only reduces the value of Chinese herbal medicine but also affects the judgement about the efficacy and safety of Chinese medicines in general.

“Therefore, there is an urgent need to establish reporting guidelines for clinical trials of Chinese herbal medicine with a view to encouraging the publication of clinical trial reports compiled by researchers in different countries as well as enhancing the global influence of Chinese medicine,” added Professor Bian.

The group undertaking this comprehensive process comprised Chinese medicine clinical experts, methodologists, epidemiologists and a medical journal editor. They came from a variety of institutions including the University of Oxford in the UK, University of Ottawa in Canada, Beijing University of Chinese Medicine and Sichuan University in China, etc.

On the basis of the CONSORT Statement, the concept of zheng (also called “pattern” or “syndrome”), which is a core element of Chinese medicine theory, together with details of quality control of Chinese herbal medicine were added to form CONSORT-CHM Formulas 2017. The development of CONSORT-CHM Formulas 2017 was partly funded by the Hospital Authority of Hong Kong.