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Expert committee to examine complementary medicines in health system.

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TW 17/03 May 12 2003

EXPERT COMMITTEE TO EXAMINE COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINES IN HEALTH SYSTEM An expert committee will be set up by the Commonwealth Government to examine the role of complementary medicines in the health care system, Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Trish Worth, announced today.

Ms Worth said the expert committee will focus on issues around the supply of safe, high quality complementary medicines, quality use of and timely access to these medicines, and the maintenance of a responsible and viable complementary medicines industry.

"The Pan Pharmaceuticals recall has highlighted the importance of preventing or deterring deliberate or reckless breaches of standards and conditions applicable to the manufacture of medicines in order to protect the health and safety of the Australian public," Ms Worth said.

"Recent events have raised a number of questions about the reliance consumers can place on complementary medicines when these are not assessed for effectiveness by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

"These concerns have been raised by health professionals, researchers, alternative medicine practitioners, consumer groups and individuals.

"In addition, concerns have been raised about the reliance consumers can place on information that is available on complementary medicines, including the role of the Internet."

The expert committee will be chaired by Dr Michael Bollen AM, a member of the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) who has been involved with the Australian Pharmaceutical Advisory Council (APAC) and consumer medicines information.

An eminent group of academic, clinical and industry experts is being invited to join the committee. Further announcements on committee members and the terms of reference will be made later in the week.

"It is imperative the community is able to have confidence that information available from all sources is valid, trustworthy and not misleading," Ms Worth said.

"The establishment of this committee will go a long way towards giving the community and all health care practitioners confidence that the Government is taking the necessary steps to examine the role of complementary medicines in the health care system, while encouraging the continuation of Australia's reputation as a supplier of high quality and safe medicines."

The committee will report back to the Commonwealth Government by mid August.

Media contact: Mark Williams ph 0401 147 558