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Implementation of the Government Response to the recommendations of the Expert Committee on Complementary Medicines in the Health System

21 December 2006

Following the suspension of Pan Pharmaceuticals Limited's manufacturing licence in 2003, the Australian Government established the Expert Committee on Complementary Medicines in the Health System (Expert Committee). The Expert Committee, chaired by Dr Michael Bollen AM, had members with expertise in complementary medicines research, practitioner training, clinical practice, pharmacy, industry and consumer issues.

The Expert Committee's Report contained 49 recommendations covering the regulation of complementary medicines and complementary healthcare practitioners, research and the information and education needs of healthcare practitioners and consumers to improve community confidence in, and the viability of the complementary medicines industry in Australia.

The Expert Committee found that the two-tiered, risk-based system for medicines, including complementary medicines, was appropriate to support the quality, safety and efficacy of both Registered and Listed complementary medicines. The recommendations it made were aimed at strengthening a system that already leads the world in the regulation of complementary medicines.

Following stakeholder consultation in Australia and New Zealand to help inform its response to the recommendations of the Expert Committee, the Australian Government accepted 35 of the 49 recommendations, accepted another recommendation in principle; and one relating to complementary medicine research funding was not accepted. The remaining 12 recommendations, the majority of which were outside the direct responsibility of the Australian Government, were supported or noted. Attachment A summarises the recommendations of the Expert Committee and the Government Response to the recommendations.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) was nominated by the Government as being responsible for coordinating the implementation of the Government Response. The TGA established the Complementary Medicines Implementation Reference Group to provide advice on and oversee the implementation of the Government Response. The Reference Group is chaired by Dr Michael Bollen, who was also Chair of the Expert Committee, and includes representatives and experts in complementary medicine research, education, industry and consumer matters.

The TGA conducted an initial audit of progress with implementing the Government Response in September 2005. The audit helped to identify the complex array of interdependencies between recommendations, with a number of recommendations being dependent on others being completed before implementation can commence. In addition, the audit identified the multiple stakeholders involved and the number of these stakeholders who have a role to play in giving effect to the recommendations. Overall, the work done during the audit provided a firm foundation from which to regularly monitor further progress with implementing the Government Response.

The first report of progress with implementing the Government Response to the recommendations of the Expert Committee was prepared in February 2006.

A more comprehensive Progress Report was prepared for the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, the Hon Christopher Pyne in October 2006, and gives a summary of progress with each of the recommendations where a commitment to take some further action was given in the Government Response.

October 2006 progress report

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Implementation of the Government Response to the Recommendations of the Expert Committee on Complementary Medicines in the Health System: Report of Progress October 2006 (pdf,1.2Mb)*

February 2006 progress report

Implementation of the Government Response to the recommendations of the Expert Committee on Complementary Medicines in the Health System: February 2006 (pdf, 70kb)

Complementary Medicines Implementation Reference Group

Membership

  • Dr Michael Bollen AM, Principal, BMP Healthcare Consulting Pty Ltd (Chair)
  • Professor Alan Bensoussan, Director, Centre for Complementary Medicine Research and Head, Chinese Medicine Unit, University of Western Sydney. Expert Panel Members for Chinese Medicines on the Complementary Medicine Evaluation Committee (CMEC);
  • Dr David Briggs, Director, Office of Complementary Medicines, Therapeutic Goods Administration;
  • Mr Ron Geiger, Chairman, Natural Products New Zealand (NPNZ), and Managing Director, Alaron Products Limited, NZ;
  • Dr Tony Lewis, Executive Director, Complementary Healthcare Council of Australia (CHC);
  • Professor Stephen Myers, Director, Australian Centre for Complementary Medicine Education and Research (ACCMER). Member, CMEC;
  • Ms Juliet Seifert, Executive Director, Australian Self-Medication Industry Inc (ASMI);
  • Ms Viola Korczak, Health Policy Officer, Australian Consumers Association;
  • Ms Geraldine Robertson, Consumers' Health Forum.

Terms of reference

The Terms of Reference for the Complementary Medicines Implementation Reference Group are to:

  • Provide advice on the development of a plan and timetable for implementing the Government Response to the recommendations of the Expert Committee on Complementary Medicines in the Health System;
  • Monitor progress on the implementation of the Government Response; and
  • Assist in the development of a report reviewing progress 12 months after commencement of the implementation plan.

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