Complementary medicines have a legitimate role to play in consumer health

14 May 2013

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14 May 2013 - Peak industry body, the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) has urged more balanced public debate on complementary medicines (CM).

According to ASMI Regulatory and Scientific Affairs Director, Steve Scarff:
"From an industry perspective, ASMI is intent on pursuing a legitimate role for CMs in the health care system and does not condone any level of non-compliance. While we welcome public discussion on CMs, we feel recent media coverage omitted an important point on the state of compliance for CMs in Australia.

"The statement that 90 per cent of CM products that were reviewed in 2008 by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) failed to comply does not take into account the varying nature of non-compliance, nor the small and unrepresentative sample size - a substantial limitation highlighted by the Australian National Audit Office in its 2011-12 report.3

Alongside Canada, Australia has one of the world's most advanced regulatory systems for CMs. The problem is not with the regulatory system, but rather the lack of force applied by the TGA to non-compliant sponsors."

Currently, two-thirds of Australians use CMs regularly to optimise their health and prevent illness.3 With the CM sector currently undergoing significant reform, ASMI is advocating that the following issues be addressed:

  • There needs to be a high level of confidence, rigour and transparency around the way that CMs are marketed, including the claims that are made about individual products.
  • While industry has its part to play in ensuring compliance, the TGA must enforce tougher penalties and sanctions to deter those sponsors whose non-compliance brings the industry into disrepute.
  • There needs to be consistency and predictability in the process of evaluation.
  • ASMI advocates for minimum effective regulation which is commensurate with risk, listable medicines being at the lower end of the risk spectrum, as well as effective measures to ensure compliance.
  • Increased investment in research (via data protection) will further support the growing evidence-base for CMs.

Media contact: Michelle Sollitt-Davis - ASMI PR Manager
Ph: 02 9923 9410 | M: 0422 084 951 | Email:

About ASMI: The Australian Self-Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak industry body for the Australian self care industry representing consumer healthcare products including over-the-counter medicines and complementary medicines. ASMI's mission is to promote better health through responsible self-care. This means ensuring that safe and effective self-care products are readily available to all Australians at a reasonable cost. ASMI works to encourage responsible use by consumers and an increasing role for cost-effective self-medication products as part of the broad national health strategy.

1. Amy Corderoy. War of words on potions and pills continues. Sydney Morning Herald. 12 May 2013.
2. Amy Corderoy. Most pills and potions fail the test. Sydney Morning Herald. 12 May 2013.
3. Australian National Audit Office Report No. 3 2011-12. Therapeutic Goods Regulation:L Complementary Medicines.