CHENGDU, Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- Eight Chinese pharmacy chains announced Thursday that they have stopped selling bear bile products, as they joined a campaign launched by an animal charity to end controversial bear farming.
The eight chains, with 151 drugstores in Chengdu, capital of southwest Sichuan Province, issued the statement at an activity held by the Animals Asia Foundation (AAF).
Overall, 260 drugstores of 11 chains in China have joined the AAF campaign to stop such sales.
The eight local chains included Chengdu Dahua Pharmacy, Furong Grand Pharmacy and Chengdu Grand Pharmacy.
Bear bile is held in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) theory as a cure for ailments such as eye and liver problems, but the brutal practice of tapping bile from live bears has drawn much criticism in recent years from animal rights activists and the public.
Zhong Yuanwei, vice general manager of Chengdu Dahua, said the business endorsed the AAF campaign to shoulder its social and environmental responsibilities as well as to ensure the health of customers.
Medical practitioners, including many TCM doctors, have expressed doubt about the safety of bear bile, whose extraction process inflicts so much pain and damage to bears' health that they are often left fatally ill.
"Brutal bile extraction violates the idea of TCM of seeking harmony between man and nature. Besides, it can be replaced by many herbs that are similar in effect but cheaper," said veteran TCM doctor Liu Zhengcai.
Liu said the use of bear bile could not be found in most TCM classics, suggesting it has never figured prominently in medical practices in China.
Medical uses of bear parts have a long history in China but have faced mounting opposition in recent years thanks to rising animal welfare awareness among the public. Last year, a renowned bear bile producer abandoned its IPO application amid a groundswell of condemnation.