Bear Bile Drugs in China Cause Outcry

Bear Bile Drugs in China Cause Outcry

June 7th, 2013 // 1:44 pm @


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An IPO in China by a drugmaker that was using bile from trapped black bears to make drugs for the eye and liver has been scrapped. The decision came after more than 24 months of protests from animal rights groups.

The Fujian Guizhentang Pharmaceutical stock program was one of about 270 that were pulled after more scrutiny of IPOs in China. No explanation was offered by authorities in China and the media reported that the firm planned to expand through other means.

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This drugmaker has 500 bears captive on a farm and plans to increase that number to more than 1000. The safety and efficacy of the practice has been questioned for years, but bear bile has been used in medicine in Asia for decades to detoxify the liver and to help vision. In the 1980s, captive breeding became common, which replaced the original technique of killing black bears to  get their bile.

The number of the farms in China is lower in recent years – less than 100. But production still is rising as the farms that are left breed more of the bears. The farms also often capture them illegally. In 2012 over 10,000 bears were on farms for bile, which costs up to $300 per pound.

Black bears are at high risk for extinction, according to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. This is probably why the stock sale for Fujian Guizhentang got people so upset and drew international headlines. Activists say the fight is far from over. Their goal is to stop bear bile farming entirely in the coming years.



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