Advancing Complementary Medicines in Australia: International regulatory expert Michael Smith to share insights at ASMI Conference

23 October 2013

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23 October 2013 - The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) will leverage the international experience of pharmacist and licenced naturopathic practitioner Michael Smith at this year's conference to explore the evolving role of complementary medicines in preventative health.

In Australia, vitamins, mineral and supplements (known as complementary medicines) represent the largest and fastest growing segment in the non-prescription sector, with two-thirds of Australians taking them regularly to optimise their health and wellbeing.1
In his session, 'Complementary Medicines & the Consumer - Then, Now & in the Future', Michael Smith will focus on the freedom of informed choice and the responsibility of industry to provide consumers with the information they need to make informed choices about their health.

"Complementary medicines are no longer on the fringe of mainstream science and medicine. Over the past three decades, we have increasingly seen complementary medicines become considered a legitimate healthcare option both in Australia and globally," said Michael Smith, international regulatory expert and former head of the Office of Complementary Medicines at the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
"Here in Australia, we are seeing a more discerning, informed and proactive consumer who increasingly considers complementary medicines as part of an approach focussed on personal health and wellbeing. The vast majority of consumers are not substituting conventional medicines with complementary medicines. Rather, vitamins, mineral and supplements are being used as another way to help individuals meet their health goals."
Mr Smith added that since the claims and indications of many complementary medicines are based on traditional medicine they are often perceived inaccurately as being unproven. While promoting randomised controlled trials is important, they are not practical or necessary in every case. An important task is ensuring that consumers know what type of evidence supports the claims.

"Alongside Canada, Australia has one of the world's most established regulatory systems for complementary medicines. Consumers in Australia, more than in any other country, can have confidence in the quality and safety of products that are legally sold here.
"What's important to keep in mind is that the typical consumer is comfortable with complementary medicines so long as they are of high-quality and that the claims are accurately supported by good evidence - scientific or traditional. This supports consumers in making an informed choice around whether to take or not take a complementary medicine."

Mr Smith's presentation will also focus on the need to support a regulatory framework that protects the consumer as its primary goal without overburdening the industry given the 'lower risk' profile of complementary medicines.

According to ASMI Marketing & Business Development Director, Ms Filomena Maiese, not only does Michael Smith have a remarkable global perspective, his former role at the TGA means he understands the regulatory challenges which exist within the Australian sector.
"Michael Smith's presentation is set to provide insights on how to continue to promote a viable industry while ensuring the trust and confidence of consumers and healthcare professionals. The timing is critical, with the regulation of complementary medicines undergoing one of the biggest reviews by the TGA," Ms Maiese said.
Following his presentation, Mr Smith will participate in a panel discussion on complementary medicines with Dr Lesley Braun, Senior Research Fellow, Monash University; Karen Carey, Chair, Consumer Healthcare Forum (CHF); Prof Scott Koslow, Macquarie University; Dr John Skerritt, National Manager, Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA); and Dr Lily Tomas, President, Australasian Integrative Medicine Association (AIMA).

To register for the conference and for the full list of conference speakers and topics, please visit www.cvent.com/d/gcqy6c. Regular conference updates will be included on Twitter #ASMIconf.

The ASMI Annual General Meeting will precede the conference at 7.30 am. The conference will be followed with the 2013 ASMI Diamond Awards Dinner at 7.00 pm.
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Media contact: Michelle Sollitt-Davis - ASMI PR Manager
Ph: 02 9923 9410 | M: 0422 084 951 | Email: michelle@asmi.com.au

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. www.asmi.com.au

References:
1. Australian National Audit Office Report No. 3 2011-12. Therapeutic Goods Regulation: Complementary Medicines.

ASMI 2013 CONFERENCE EVENT DETAILS:
When: Thursday 14 November 2013. Registration and morning tea at 8.30 am
Where: Waterview Convention Centre, Bicentennial Park, Homebush, Sydney
Who: Delegates from all sectors from the consumer healthcare industry are encouraged to attend
How: Register online at www.cvent.com/d/gcqy6c
Contact: Claire Johnson, ASMI Member Events and Services Associate
02 9922 5111 | claire@asmi.com.au