Traditional Chinese cough syrup Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa popular among New Yorkers during flu season

The remedy, often referred to simply as Pei Pa Koa, is sold for as much as US$70 (S$92) online through third parties for a 300ml bottle.
The remedy, often referred to simply as Pei Pa Koa, is sold for as much as US$70 (S$92) online through third parties for a 300ml bottle.PHOTO: ST FILE

NEW YORK (XINHUA) - A traditional Chinese cough syrup, called Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa, is flying off the shelves in New York stores this flu season, following a US news report.

According to a report published by the Wall Street Journal last week, Mr Alex Schweder, an architect and professor of design at Pratt Institute suffering a cough for about 10 days, felt better 15 minutes after he drank a bottle of Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa. It had been recommended by his girlfriend, who first learnt about the herbal supplement 30 years ago when she was living in Hong Kong.

Mr Schweder was shocked by the magical effects of the herbal supplement, and recommended it to many people. This, combined with other factors, soon made the Chinese medicine popular in New York City.

The remedy, often referred to simply as Pei Pa Koa, is sold for as much as US$70 (S$92) online through third parties for a 300ml bottle, the Wall Street Journal said.

Shares of Kingworld Medicines Group, a Hong Kong-listed Chinese pharmaceutical company that produces the remedy, soared 25 per cent on Monday (Feb 26) following the report.

A 300ml bottle is now sold at US$13.29 on Walmart's online platform. This is more than double the price in some pharmacies in Manhattan's Chinatown, selling at about US$6 per bottle.

"The number of Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa we sold over the past few days was much more than usual," Winnie, a sales staff member of Buy-rite pharmacy in Chinatown, told Xinhua on Monday.

More and more Westerners are accepting this remedy not only because it is effective, but also because its packaging is very convenient for consumption, she said.

A sales staff member of another Chinatown drugstore named Centre Care Pharmacy said: "Many more people, including many foreigners, have come to our store to buy Pei Pa Koa recently."  The employee added that the flu season also helped to boost sales.

According to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 97 influenza-related paediatric deaths have been reported for the 2017-2018 flu season as of Feb 17.

"I think that (the report) is a good thing. It will make traditional Chinese products more acceptable among Western countries," Winnie added. "In fact, we also sold more of other related traditional Chinese medicine in the past few days."

According to the Kingworld Medicines Group's official website, Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa is made of "precious Chinese herbs and honey, and has remarkable effects in relieving coughs, eliminating phlegm and soothing sore throats".

However, experts warned that taking herbal supplements can involve health risks, including when they are used with medicine, consumed in excess or taken instead of prescription medication.

Dr Keith Brenner, a specialist in pulmonary medicine at Columbia University Medical Centre at the New York Presbyterian Hospital, said: "I think people who use these things may not even disclose them to the physician, and it's a problem."

"There's been well-established interactions between herbal and prescription (medication), and the doctor can pick up on it if the patient discloses it," he said, according to Wall Street Journal.