[Photos] What type of Chinese medicine is sold in North Korea to treat COVID-19 symptoms?
On Monday, Daily NK obtained a picture of Chinese medicines being sold at a pharmacy in Pyongyang. The drug appears to have been recently imported from China and distributed to the military with the capital.
The photo (below) shows a small medicine box called, in Chinese, Lianhua Qingwen Jiao Nang, as well as a silver pouch containing the medicine capsules. The instructions on the box say the medicine is effective against the flu and can also be used to treat symptoms such as high fevers, chills, muscle aches, runny nose, cough and headache.
The National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China had published a study claiming that the same drug, which is made from medicinal herbs – including forsythia, jamahuang, eoseongcho (Houttuynia cordata) and licorice – is effective against the coronavirus.
North Korean authorities distributed the drug in the country as a painkiller and analgesic, selling it for 15,000 KPW.
Chinese medicine is much more expensive than antipyretics and analgesics available in local markets; however, those in immediate need of medication would be relieved simply by having the medications available for purchase.
According to a Daily NK source in Pyongyang, basic drugs such as fever reducers and painkillers were not available in city pharmacies until May 16. Since that date, however, residents of Pyongyang have been able to buy antipyretics, cold medicines and antidiarrheals. in small quantities in pharmacies.
Pharmacists carefully check the citizenship cards of those who buy drugs in addition to recording their symptoms and the types of drugs they buy, the source said.
He also noted that military medical officials dispatched to city pharmacies ensure that individuals do not buy more than two boxes of drugs, apparently to prevent people from hoarding the drugs.
North Korean authorities are also encouraging people to buy drugs through their inminban (popular units), which appoint teams to visit pharmacies and buy all the drugs needed by members of the same inminban everything at once. So the authorities seem keen to prevent Pyongyang residents from flooding the city’s pharmacies.
Meanwhile, authorities are distributing drugs officially imported from China to military medical authorities.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un ordered that soldiers are given the drug as the military appears to have completely exhausted its supply of “wartime emergency medicine”.
The source, however, pointed out that a significant amount of drugs sent to military medical authorities do not mention production or expiry dates.
Daily NK was unable to confirm whether the drug with no manufacturing or expiry date was officially imported by North Korean authorities or purchased by the country’s commercial organizations. However, the severe shortage of drugs appears to have prompted authorities to accept all drugs despite their unclear production and expiry dates.
Daily NK also understands that drugs officially imported from China recently have not yet been distributed to provincial cities.
Since May 16, pharmacies in Sinuiju have been selling Chinese medicines such as antipyretics, painkillers and cold medicines. However, most of these products appear to have been smuggled into the country and are generally unlicensed drugs.
Daily NK was able to obtain a photo of drugs being sold at a pharmacy in Sinuiju (above, right). The drug, “Purexitong”, is an unlicensed drug containing paracetamol, often used in North Korea as an antipyretic and pain reliever.
Given the shortage of medicines in North Korea, unauthorized drugs smuggled into the country appear to be on sale in pharmacies in the country’s provinces.
Translated by Youngheon Kim. Edited by Robert Lauler.
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