2017 Media Releases

TGA falsely discredited as regulator of Chinese herbal medicine in Australia.


7 February 2017

TGA falsely discredited as regulator of Chinese herbal medicine in Australia.

A review by lead author Roger Byard published on Monday 6th of February 2017 in the Medical Journal of Australia falsely discredits the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) role as an effective regulator of herbal medicines in Australia.

Media coverage of the review has been most apparent in articles published on the same day by The Guardian and ABC titled “Herbal medicines can have dangerous side effect, research reveals” and “Herbal supplements should be tested for safety, researchers say, questioning quality of drugs” respectively.

Both articles inform of the review’s findings, which corresponds to the view that the TGA should test herbal medicines for safety as they could potentially damage the health of consumers.

The Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd (AACMA) points out the stringent regulatory framework that mandates its members only utilise ingredients assessed as safe and allowed at safe levels by the TGA.

Chinese medicine has been a nationally registered health profession since 1 July 2012, regulated under the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

The purpose of national registration is to protect the public. This means that persons wishing to advertise Chinese medicine services to the public, or to claim to be qualified to provide Chinese medicine services, must be registered with the Chinese Medicine Board of Australia (CMBA) which operates under AHPRA.

Products used by registered Chinese medicine practitioners must be entered into the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). If they are not entered into the register they cannot be legally imported, exported, manufactured or supplied to consumers in Australia.

Batch testing of finished products (tablets/capsules) verifies consistency and quality of the active ingredients within the label claim. Product quality reviews ensure that quality data is aggregated and tracked over time, allowing the industry to identify and act on any emerging trends.

Products that pose health risks, such as those cited in the articles published by The Guardian and the ABC must be examples obtained from overseas, unregulated vendors, or perhaps point to a breach of Australian Customs and Border Protection Service. Such examples do not belong to the profession of registered Chinese medicine in Australia.

“How have prohibited herbs made it through customs when any herbs prescribed by us have to go through stringent guidelines and testing? Suppliers and manufacturers are TGA and customs compliant having the mandatory import licences” AACMA vice president Waveny Holland said.

This accurately reflects the ABC article’s inclusion of a TGA spokeswoman’s statement that indicated the authors of the Medical Journal of Australia pointed largely to examples from overseas and that “only ingredients that are known to be safe can be used in herbal medicines.”

President of the Chinese Medicine Industry Council of Australia Max Ma said “the claims for some incidents of kidney, liver damage are related to consuming ‘un-listed’ or ‘illegal’ herbal products from online or overseas purchase or smuggled products.”

Consumers should use only CMBA registered Chinese medical practitioners to ensure they come into contact with only TGA approved goods. Registered Chinese medicine practitioners can be accessed via a practitioner search option on the AACMA website.

The AACMA website can be found at www.acupuncture.org.au/

Douglas Bates
AACMA General Manager.


Media enquiries
Patricia Higgins
Communications Officer 
Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd 
e: communications@acupuncture.org.au w:www.acupuncture.org.au 
p: 07 3457 1816 
f: 07 3394 2399



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