Wu Yiling, the billionaire founder of traditional Chinese medicine producer Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical, saw his wealth plunge by $1.1 billion in just one day amid questions over the efficacy of his purported Covid-treatment drugs.
The 72-year-old is facing rising skepticism of Yiling’s signature product, a herbal remedy called Lianhua Qingwen. Shares of the Shenzhen-listed company had almost quadrupled since the start of the pandemic in 2020, as capsules of Lianhua Qingwen were recommended by Chinese government authorities and health experts for treating mild Covid cases.
But the rally now appears to have come to an end. The company’s stock plunged by its daily trading limit of 10% in Shenzhen on Monday—dragging Wu’s wealth down to $4.7 billion from $5.8 billion on the World’s Real-Time Billionaires’ List. The drop came after Wang Sicong, the outspoken son of Wang Jianlin, the chairman of Dalian Wanda, reposted late last week a video on his verified account on Sina Weibo that questioned whether the World Health Organization (WHO) has ever recommended Lianhua Qingwen as a Covid treatment.
What’s more, Chinese healthcare platform Dingxiang Doctor is also now advising against using the capsules, which are made from ingredients that include honeysuckle, liquorice root and apricot seed. In an article published at midnight on Sunday, the platform wrote that there is currently no evidence suggesting that Lianhua Qingwen can prevent Covid infections.
A Yiling representative acknowledged over the phone a request for comment, but the company was unable to provide a response. In a filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, the company said Lianhua Qingwen accounted for 42% of its 3.4 billion yuan ($529 million) in sales in the first three quarters of 2021 (Yiling also makes herbal treatments for cardiovascular and tumor-related diseases). In early April, the company donated $7.9 million worth of Lianhua Qingwen capsules to Shanghai, which were distributed to residents as the daily count of confirmed Covid cases continues to mount.
China, in the meantime, has also been trying to promote Lianhua Qingwen abroad–and the results have so far been mixed. Russia began to allow the sale of the capsules in late 2020, while authorities elsewhere, such as those in the U.S. and Singapore, have questioned the efficacy of the capsules for treating Covid. Meanwhile, the WHO has not approved or recommended Lianhua Qingwen as a Covid treatment. (Source: forbes.com)