Chinese Pharma Manufacturers Exploit Endangered Species In Medicines

An environmental investigation has disclosed that three Chinese pharmaceutical companies have listed parts of endangered animals as ingredients in their products. Beijing Tong Ren Tang Group, Tianjin Pharmaceutical Group and Jilin Aodong Pharmaceutical Group have utilized parts of endangered leopards and pangolins in 88 traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) products, as the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) UK reported.

The EIA has appealed to global investors, including major banks like UBS and HSBC, to withdraw their stakes in these firms. It is disconcerting to note the endorsement of such damaging exploitation by many prominent banks and financial institutions. They indirectly support the trade of threatened species by investing in these pharmaceutical companies.

Avinash Basker, a legal and policy specialist for the EIA, commented on the matter, saying, “It’s particularly disappointing to see so many major banks and financial institutions effectively endorsing this damaging exploitation. They need to divest from TCM manufacturers using threatened species at the soonest opportunity.”

This call for divestment comes after it was revealed that 62 financial institutions have invested in at least one of the three Chinese pharmaceutical companies. The list of investors includes renowned global banks and investment firms such as UBS, Deutsche Bank, HSBC Holdings, Citigroup, and BlackRock.

The EIA urges the Chinese government to abide by the recommendations of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and prohibit the use of body parts of leopards, pangolins, tigers, and rhinos for commercial purposes in its domestic markets. China’s amended Wildlife Protection law, effective in May, bans the trade of most wild animals for consumption as food. However, permits for breeding and use can still be issued under specific circumstances.

The exploitation of endangered animals in pharmaceuticals not only poses a severe threat to the survival of these species but also raises ethical questions about the practices of these companies. Listing endangered animal parts in TCM products reflects a disregard for conservation efforts and international regulations to protect these animals. Moreover, the fact that these companies are publicly traded and display products with leopard or pangolin parts on their websites indicates a lack of transparency and accountability.

The onus is not just on the pharmaceutical companies but also on the global investors and financial institutions that have stakes in them. By divesting from these firms, they can take a stand against the trade of threatened species and contribute to conservation efforts. The financial sector is crucial in safeguarding endangered species and preventing their exploitation for commercial gains.

Action must be taken to halt the use of endangered animals in pharmaceutical products. This includes strict enforcement of existing laws and regulations, as well as the implementation of new measures to ensure the protection of these species.