20 April 2012 – MEDIA RELEASE
AACMA believes reports of research study of TCM products may mislead public
AACMA believes the reporting about the research study which showed illegal plant and animal ingredients were found in Chinese medicine products seized by customs is misleading to the Australian public.
The products tested in the Murdoch University research project were seized by customs precisely because they were not approved for sale in Australia.
The Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd (AACMA) CEO Judy James said to draw conclusions that product that has been approved for sale in Australia contains illegal or dangerous ingredients is wrong and is misleading to the public about potential health risks and safety.
The Australian regime for regulation of manufactured complementary medicine product (including TCM product) is managed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Office of Complementary Medicines. TGA-listed product can only contain ingredients that are on the TGA approved ingredients list, which does not include the substances found in the seized medicines reported in this study.
One article, published by the Sydney Morning Herald was titled Bits of black bear found in Chinese medicine (12 April 2012), which in AACMA’s view is unnecessarily alarmist, given that import of products containing bear part is illegal in Australia. No bear parts are approved as ingredients in complementary medicines approved for sale or import in Australia
Manufactured Chinese herbal medicine products imported into or sold in Australia are regulated by the TGA. Consumers should always look for the Therapeutic Goods Administration ‘AUST L’ or ‘AUST R’ number printed on the front of any manufactured medicine on sale in Australia not just complementary medicines.
AACMA warns about the dangers of self-diagnosis and self-administration of therapeutic products, especially buying medications over the internet or purchased overseas. The Association further stresses the importance of seeking advice from a qualified Chinese medicine practitioner who is qualified to prescribe and dispense Chinese herbal medicines. AACMA reassures the many people who are receiving Chinese herbal medicine treatments that it is safe and effective when prescribed and dispensed by a qualified Chinese medicine practitioner.
AACMA supports the development of international safety and quality standards for TCM product.
AACMA opposes the illegal use of endangered species of flora and fauna in any form of medicine. AACMA administers the TCM Endangered Species Certification Scheme (ESCS), established with funding from the Australian Government Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPC). This innovative programs is designed to promote awareness of CITES (Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species) amongst TCM practitioners, education institutions, researchers, and industry. Participants in the ESCS certify that they will trade only in legally acquired wildlife parts and products.
Australia is also a Participating Country in the development of international standards for Traditional Chinese Medicine under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Under this project, the development of safety and quality standards for natural materials used in TCM and for manufactured TCM product are currently being considered.
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Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd
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