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Wednesday, 20 September 2017
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Overview Complementary Medicines and Nutraceuticals

Complementary medicines (CM) can be defined as a diverse range of health products and therapies that are not considered to be core conventional medicine practices, which aim to prevent, treat or manage illness. Such products and therapies include vitamins, minerals, herbal remedies, aromatherapy, Chinese medicine and homoeopathy. It is estimated that 2 in 3 Australians use CM each year and 42 per cent do so to prevent or manage chronic conditions identified as national health priorities - this is one of the highest consumption rates per capita in developed nations.

Australia has significant strengths in CM research and the sector is a growing contributor to the country's economy. Industry revenue is currently $3.5 billion and is expected to grow to AU$4.6 billion in 2017-2018, with industry employment expected to rise to 45,000.

Queensland is a key segment within Australia's CM industry, which receives State Government support and boasts many advantages including a competitive manufacturing environment. The State houses more than 400 CM and nutrition companies and employs approximately 10,000 Queenslanders.

To continue boosting CM industry growth, organisations such as the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) provide a platform for a coordinated national approach to building complementary medicine research capacity and addressing issues around CM, including bridging the gap between available evidence and the health potential and use of CM and managing and establishing sources of reliable and accurate information about safety, efficacy and value of CM. Preliminary research indicates that the field can make a significant, cost-effective contribution to the country's healthcare system, particularly in the areas of chronic disease management and preventative, aged and palliative care.

Australia follows a risk-based system for the regulation of CM, with those registered being evaluated for quality, safety and efficacy by the Office of Complementary and Over-the-counter Medicines Branch of the TGA. However, it should be noted that listed complementary medicines require the sponsor to hold evidence to support drug efficacy. Clinical trials are essential in establishing efficacy.

For more information, visit the TGA’s website at
www.tga.gov.au, or contact LSQ to be directed to the appropriate LSQ Members for assistance.