Major Chinese pharmaceutical companies, some with ties to global banking giants, have been implicated in using endangered animal parts in their product formulations, according to a damning report by the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) based in London. The report alleges that Beijing Tong Ren Tang group, Tianjin Pharmaceutical group, and Jilin Aodong Pharmaceutical Group have utilized body parts from threatened species such as leopards and pangolins in a range of 88 traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) products.
Disturbingly, the EIA has identified these companies among 72 businesses that openly list these ingredients on their respective websites and product packages. While the aforementioned pharmaceutical groups have yet to provide an official response, the advocacy efforts by the EIA go beyond mere corporate accountability. Avinash Basker, a legal and policy specialist for EIA, expressed dismay at the passive complicity of several financial behemoths, saying, “It’s particularly disappointing to see many major banks and financial institutions effectively endorsing this damaging exploitation. They must divest from TCM manufacturers exploiting threatened species.”
Internationally renowned banks, including HSBC Holdings, UBS, Deutsche Bank, Citigroup, and BlackRock, have financial ties with the indicted firms, the EIA notes. Notably, Wells Fargo has indicated steps to divest from such entities. Still, other institutions, such as UBS, clarified their shareholdings were client-held, while Deutsche Bank’s asset management arm emphasized its active funds had no exposure to these drugmakers.
However, the EIA’s efforts are not only directed at financial institutions. They have strongly urged the Chinese government to outright ban the use of endangered species parts for commercial endeavors. This plea comes in light of China’s revised Wildlife Protection law, which prohibits trading most wild animals for food consumption, yet still contains loopholes allowing breeding and usage under specific conditions. China’s National Medical Products Administration has remained silent on the issue.