Shares of Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical Co. fell sharply on Monday, April 18. The move came after the outspoken son of one of China’s wealthiest men raised doubts over the efficacy of its COVID-19 treatment drug.

Shenzhen Securities Times reported that shares of Shijiazhuang Yiling, one of China’s most prominent traditional medicine producers, dropped by the daily limit on April 15 and 18. Its total market value evaporated by 12.7 billion yuan (nearly $2 billion) following those two trading days.

According to South China Morning Post, this came after Wang Sicong, son of Wang Jianlin, Chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, reposted a video late last week on his Weibo account.

In the video, he questioned whether the World Health Organization had ever recommended Lianhua Qingwen, one of the firm’s leading products, as COVID-19 treatment.

The social media platform deactivated his account on Tuesday due to “violations of relevant laws and regulations.”

As reported by Forbes, Chinese authorities have been promoting the herbal remedy for reducing symptoms such as fever and sore throat in mild Covid cases. As a result, Shijiazhuang Yiling shares had almost quadrupled since the pandemic first started in 2020.

However, a Chinese healthcare platform named Dingxiang Yisheng has recently published an article saying that there is no official evidence to prove the efficacy of Lianhua Qingwen in preventing Coronavirus disease.

The report also said that the World Health Organization has not yet approved the capsules for treating Covid.

In addition, South China Morning Post reported that the company had caused public outrage earlier this month by donating 8 million boxes of Lianhua Qingwen capsules to Shanghai while 25 million people were struggling to acquire rice, fresh vegetables, and masks.

The Chinese medicine did not have much luck in the overseas markets either.
In 2020, Australian Border Force seized around 1.3 million Lianhua Qingwen capsules, and U.S Customs also confiscated many shipments of the remedy.

ABC News reported the drug is banned in Australia by Therapeutic Goods Administration for containing ephedra, the main ingredient used to produce the drug methamphetamine, commonly known as meth.

A spokesperson from Therapeutic Goods Administration commented on its threat, saying, “Ephedra can pose serious safety risks to patients, including cardiac toxicity, irreversible eye damage and severe depletion of blood sugar.”

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