April 2 - A Chinese company is pushing for greater acceptance of traditional Chinese medicine with a machine that can dispense a prescription much like a cup of instant coffee. The manufacturers hope the machine will make the idea of traditional medicine more attractive in western cultures. Tara Cleary reports.
STORY: As quick and easy as making a cup of instant coffee - a Chinese company has developed a new machine which dispenses traditional medicine with the simple push of a button. Once a prescription is provided, staff dispense the medicine and the machine does the rest. It's a far cry from the medicinal practices of old, where ginseng, fungi, dried seahorses and the other mysterious ingredients are carefully sorted before being steeped for hours in hot water. Now, those ingredients can be prescribed and dispensed almost instantly according to Zeng Yougang of the Sichuan Neo-Green Pharmaceutical Company, the machine's developer SOUNDBITE: ZENG YOUGANG, PROJECT MANAGER AT SICHUAN NEO-GREEN PHARMACEUTICAL CO. LTD , SAYING (Mandarin): "The biggest advantage is that our machine is able to dispense medicine accurately. Every patient's illness is different. A doctor might prescribe different amounts of medicine to a 30-year-old patient, compared to a 50-year-old patient. Also some doctors might give you three doses, others might give five." The new machine though, provides one pack containing six individual servings. All patients need to do is open one of the sections, mix it with hot water and drink. For Wei Ting, it makes a big difference. SOUNDBITE: WEI TING, CHENGDU RESIDENT, SAYING (Mandarin): "It can take around two hours to brew Chinese medicine. Two hours is a lot of time for working professionals to spare. If it's like making instant coffee, that's the first thing we do when we get to the office, it's simple and it saves a lot of time." The Chengdu No. 1 People's Hospital is one of dozens in China where the machine has been installed. Eventually, the manufacturer wants to export them, in the hope that China's age old remedies can win greater acceptance in the west. Tara Cleary, Reuters.