• China bans the clinical use of immunotherapy for cancer treatment.

China bans the clinical use of immunotherapy for cancer treatment. (Photo : Reuters)

The National Health and Family Planning Commission emphasized on Thursday that the clinical use of the disputed immunotherapy for cancer treatment is banned, according to a China Daily report.

The top health authority released the statement after it received a public outcry when a young man named Wei Zei died after receiving such treatment at a military hospital in Beijing.

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According to the report, "the hospital was found to have outsourced its cancer treatment to a for-profit private company."

This is why the health authority also reiterated that the subcontracting of public hospitals' departments to private entities is also banned.

According to the commission, immunotherapy "has never been approved as a formal therapeutic tool for treatment in China." It can only be practiced for purely scientific research.

Nonetheless, the statement from the commission noted that their approval is required to conduct such research. This is governed by a regulation issued in 2015 that tackles "third-category medical technologies," or those that are considered experimental, risky or uncertain.

The regulation stated that those who agree to participate in the research must be fully informed and that the treatment must be free of charge.

Immunotherapy helps boost patients' immune system in order to fight cancer. It includes many types including DC-CIK, the one received by the young man. According to the man's parents, they had spent over 200,000 yuan for the treatment at the Second Hospital of Beijing Armed Police Corps.

Insiders revealed that despite the existence of government bans, some public hospitals still provide immunotherapy.

With this, the health commission reiterated that the regulation should be "strictly enforced to better secure public health."

The commission also noted that the military hospitals are under the jurisdiction of the health bureaus of the Central Military Commission and the National Armed Police Force, not by government health authorities.

Currently, the two bodies are jointly probing the hospital involved in Wei's death.