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Complementary health group hits out at government advisory role snub

By RJ Whitehead , 21-Nov-2012

Health secretary Catherine King said the advisory council was representative

Health secretary Catherine King said the advisory council was representative

Australia’s leading complementary healthcare association has slammed the government for snubbing it while appointing the new Therapeutic Goods Advisory Council (TGAC).

The Complementary Healthcare Council (CHC) said that omitting complementary medicine from the fields of interest represented on the advisory body indicated “the government’s apathetic attitude towards an industry making up a significant portion of the TGAC’s portfolio.”

The advisory council will be chaired by Australia’s chief medical officer, Prof. Chris Baggoley, and according to Catherine King, the parliamentary secretary for health and ageing, the appointees were selected for their individual knowledge and experience in the health system.

Selected for experience

Each member of the new TGAC will contribute skills and knowledge in advancing the vital work of the Therapeutic Goods Administration [TGA], which is acknowledged as a world leader in the regulation of medicines and medical devices,” said King.

Over the next three years, the council will give advice to the TGA on communication with the community and stakeholders, and new management initiatives, and it will monitor the TGA’s progress against its broader reform agenda.

However, the CHC argued that that the council has been created for the purpose of guiding the implementation of recommendations impacting heavily on the complementary medicines industry, and the absence of representation would raise questions around the knock-on effect this would have on both the industry and the 75% of consumers choosing to take complementary medicines.

The advisory council was formed in order to improve transparency and engagement by the TGA. It is therefore inconceivable that the council does not include a representative with knowledge or expertise relevant to complementary medicines,” said Dr Wendy Morrow, the CHC’s executive director. 

This is particularly significant when a considerable proportion of the recommendations the council will advise on are directly related to complementary medicines.” 

Continuing co-operation

The snub comes after the CHC had taken part in “strong engagement” with the advisory council after the government’s TGA reform document was released earlier this year. 

The council also claims to have been a significant voice on the TGA’s Therapeutic Industry Consultative Committee (TICC), representing the industry on critical discussions surrounding therapeutic industry issues. 

As the new advisory committee was at its planning stages, when it was initially conceived as an extension of the TICC, the CHC had continued to advocate for the inclusion of a representative of the complementary medicines field. 

Complementary medicines are a key component of the TGA’s work and therefore, as we have been recommending from the outset, the council must include a representative with knowledge in this area,” Morrow stressed. 

She added that the complementary medicines industry prioritises reforms that will enable the continued availability of improved, pro-active, preventative health options for consumers. As such, the CHC would continue to engage with the TGA and the parliamentary health secretary to ensure the best outcomes for both Industry and consumers, she said.

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