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Media Releases

  • 25 Feb 2020 2:09 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In Australia, the regulation of complementary medicines falls within the remit of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), which has the responsibility of regulating all therapeutic goods, including medicines and medical devices. The TGA is committed to contributing to Australia’s health system through best practice regulation of health products, and safeguarding the health of all Australians through effective, timely and risk proportionate regulation of therapeutic goods.  


    The Australian complementary medicines industry, with high-quality products supported by one of the most rigorous regulatory frameworks in the world

    Medicines and Medical Devices Regulation

    CMA acknowledges the significant work that has been undertaken to date by the TGA on the Medicines and Medical Devices Regulation (MMDR) reforms. 


    The main objectives of the MMDR were to improve the timely and safe access to quality therapeutic goods for consumers while ensuring that any legislative framework is commensurate with the risk of such goods, and to minimise the regulatory and administrative burden for business;  This is consistent with the need for Australia to remain competitive on the global stage. 


    Decreasing regulatory and administrative burden

    Central to the MMDR was the decrease in regulatory and administrative burden for businesses. While industry recognises that reforms create additional work for both the regulator and for companies, an unnecessary burden is currently being created due to staggered time frames for implementation of the numerous rule changes. This is creating a level of complexity and financial burden for industry, the significance of which, particularly for smaller and medium-sized entities, cannot be overstated. 


    Additional regulator resources to upgrade eBusiness Services

    Unless specifically exempt, complementary medicines supplied in Australia are required to be entered onto the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) maintained by the TGA. Unless they are included on the ARTG, complementary medicines cannot legally be imported, exported, manufactured, or supplied to consumers. Because the vast majority of complementary medicines are in the lower risk AUST L category, sponsors access the eBusiness portal to include, update or amend product listings. 


    Under the MMDR, the TGA has established a list of ‘permitted indications’ from which sponsors must exclusively draw when listing an AUST L product on the ARTG. This, among other changes to eBusiness, has led to an increasingly overwhelmed, prolonged and creaking system. Anyone who has spent 40 minutes on hold on their telephone can appreciate the frustration and loss of productivity for a business that has to update many listings routinely. 


    The TGA is experiencing issues with the TGA Business Services portal The TGA is currently experiencing issues within the TGA Business Services (TBS) portal. We are working on resolving the issues as quickly as possible and apologise for any inconvenience.


    The best of natural health

    In a supportive business environment, the Australian complementary medicines industry is expected to continue its positive growth trajectory, increasing innovation-rich manufacturing and providing a significant contribution to our country’s exports.


    Robust evidence in several areas shows that complementary medicines are a valuable and cost-effective way to improve health outcomes. An ageing population and increasing rates of chronic disease foreshadow higher healthcare costs in the future unless there is a focus shift towards early prevention, encouraging healthy and active ageing, and supporting individuals to take control over their health.


    To fully realise the contribution that complementary medicines can make to the health of our communities, research is essential for continuing to establish their safety and efficacy, to contribute to understanding best practice for integrative health care, and to develop innovative new products.  The Australian complementary medicines industry, with high-quality products supported by one of the most rigorous regulatory frameworks in the world and exceptional research organisations, has much to offer – quite simply, the best of natural health. 



  • 20 Feb 2020 5:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    The probiotics that live on your skin in your gut and your mouth could reveal your age according to new research1.


    The skin's microbiome provides the best prediction of age

    In the largest study to date, researchers analysed data on the microbiota from 8,959 samples in 10 different studies. Over 4000 stool samples, over 200 saliva samples and nearly 2,000 skin samples were studied.  


    Shi Huang, a bioinformatician from the University of California, San Diego, said: "Intriguingly, the skin microbiome provides the best prediction of age."


    "The big question here could be if you know your microbiome, what is the difference between yours and what's normal?" adds Shi Huang.


    The study revealed that:

    ·         Skin samples could predict age to within 3.8 years

    ·         Saliva samples could predict age to within 4.5 years

    ·         Gut bacteria could predict age to within 11.5 years.


    Beneficial at the molecular level

    Other research suggests that probiotics may benefit skin at the molecular level. Animal studies and human clinical trials are building a case for their role in intrinsic and extrinsic ageing by restoring skin pH, alleviating oxidative stress, attenuating photo ageing, improving skin barrier function, and enhancing hair quality.2



    1 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6702293/

    2 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26741377


  • 19 Feb 2020 2:15 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Researchers at Sydney University writing in Diabetes, Obesity & Metabolism A Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics have found that “Despite some of the herbal medicines showing statistically greater weight-loss than placebo, weight loss was less than 2.5kg and therefore not of clinical significance.”

    A total of 54 randomised controlled trials comparing the effect of herbal medicines to placebo for weight loss in over 4000 participants.

    The majority - 67 per cent - of Australians are overweight or obese.

    The researchers note that there is currently not enough evidence for herbal medicines for clinically significant weight-loss. However, many of the included studies were small, of poor design and methodological quality, with inadequate reporting of the herbal medicine interventions.” said the authors, led by Dr Nick Fuller (PhD) of the university’s Boden Collaboration for Obesity, Nutrition, Exercise and Eating Disorders.

    Overweight and obesity in Australia

    In 2017-18, the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ National Health Survey showed that two thirds (67.0%) of adults were overweight or obese. Plus, 55 per cent of Australians don’t meet the recommended guidelines for exercise. A substantial 8.4 per cent of the burden of disease is due to being overweight or obese in this country. 

    Multifactorial and complex

    Weight gain – overweight and obesity – is multifactorial and complex. The first step to getting to a healthy weight range is to enjoy a healthy diet and regular exercise. It also requires a real and ongoing commitment by the individual trying to make healthier lifestyle habits.

    Weight-loss fails

    There are many reasons why attempts at weight-loss fail, including setting unrealistic goals, emotional eating, negative self-image, self-doubt and underlying physiological and chronic health conditions, as well as medication for chronic conditions. The search for a quick or easy fix is also another reason that so-called ‘diets’ fail.

    Complementary medicines – a useful adjunct

    Herbal and dietary supplements can be a useful adjunct to healthier living. These have been used for centuries to aid weight-loss, and significant historical data backs herbal and nutritional supplements.

    Major commitment

    To reiterate, there is no question that weight-loss requires commitment. Weight-loss supplements can be useful when taken by people who also adopt sensible lifestyle changes. Seeking and selecting approaches to weight-loss including treatments can be a major sign of commitment to losing weight for an individual. As well as losing weight, maintaining the weight-loss also requires ongoing behavioural, and lifestyle changes. A health professional's advice can provide important and expert guidance and support to achieve and maintain weight-loss goals.







  • 14 Feb 2020 2:18 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    On Wednesday, 12 February 2020, Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA) proudly hosted the Healthy People, Healthy Future Parliamentary Breakfast at Federal Parliament, Canberra ACT.

    Attended by industry executives and allied health groups, CMA's Pre-Budget Submission for a more sustainable health system was the major focus of the addresses delivered by leading industry and research professionals.


    The guest of honour, the Health Minister, the Honourable Greg Hunt, said he supported and appreciated the strong working collaboration between the industry, CMA and the government.


    Federal Parliament provided the perfect setting to share insights on the current state of Australia's world-class complementary medicines industry and major priorities of the CMA's Pre-Budget Submission 2020-2021.


    Welcoming the delegation

    CMA's CEO Carl Gibson shared some of the Pre-Budget Submission highlights including:

    • Support for the growth of high-quality Australian exports.
    • Focus on preventive health to build a sustainable health system.
    • Support for investment in complementary medicines research and translation of evidence into clinical practice.
    • A health check of the new Regulatory Reform framework to ensure it is fit for purpose for complementary medicines.


    Ian Chant – protecting clinical trials and encouraging a healthy future

    Ian Chant is the newly elected CMA President, the Managing Director of Aker Biomarine Australia, and former Chair of CMA Export Committee. Ian tasked the CMA with doubling Australian complementary medicines exports – a mission that was achieved – and exports now top $1 billion, equivalent to 20% of all products sold today.


    Ian stressed the need to protect clinical trials for complementary medicines, a move that has been warmly welcomed by industry. “Investment in evidence-based complementary medicines will further boost Australia's research base,” he said. 


    Market exclusivity for new ingredients is important said Ian, this will drive innovation and give consumers access to the latest therapeutic products in the world. And it will continue to put more world-class products on shelves.


    Ian encouraged discussion, debate and collaboration on a healthier future for all Australians.

    “According to the National Institute of Health and Welfare,” he said, “Australia is facing a national crisis of chronic disease, with 50% of Australians now living with at least one chronic condition. Those with chronic conditions make up nine-tenths of all deaths and a third of all hospitalisations,” reported Ian.


    According to the National Health survey, two-thirds of Australian adults and a quarter of Australian children are overweight or obese. These are significant risk factor for diabetes, and the incidence of this chronic condition has tripled in the past 25 years; it now affects 1.2 million Australians.


    Ian went on to stress that frequent exercise is crucial in preventing chronic disease, yet only 50% of men and only two in five women meet their weekly requirements. It's no wonder that in just less than a decade, health costs have grown from $5,000 per person to $7,100 per person – an increase of 42%.


    “The majority of Australians, 73%, use complementary medicines – the highest recorded numbers ever. The reason? Because they trust our products, our regulatory system and the therapeutic products work for them,” said Ian.


    “Our products help people, and we thank the 36,000 natural health practitioners in Australia. We should be proud that together we can make a difference to patients suffering one or more chronic conditions,” he added.  


    Our industry can get Australians moving by preventing and managing injuries, improving recovery and building lean muscle (particularly important for our seniors) and strengthen peoples’ ability to regulate levels of body fat, lower blood pressure and increase muscle and bone density. 


    Peter Hurley – encouraging better nutrition via healthy communities`

    Peter Hurley, General Manager of Herbalife Nutrition Australia and New Zealand, said: "We are honoured to be recognised as a premier global nutrition company that continues to provide high-quality products to meet the demands of today's market. This achievement would not be possible without the great work of our Members and employees. I am proud to be a part of this amazing industry."


    Peter said that many features made Herbalife Nutrition stand out, including the Nutritional Advisory Board (NAB). This global team of nutritional experts provide dietary advice and scientific leadership. He relayed that a representative of the NAB toured Australia on an annual wellness tour of major cities, offering free public talks and the opportunity to share their practical nutritional tips, easy ways to achieve balanced nutrition and ways to incorporate exercise into each day.


    Herbalife Nutrition provides ongoing training and support to the company’s Independent Members; this is achieved through regular meetings and sales training sessions held monthly in each state plus downloadable resources on the member website. 


    The company's sports nutrition brand Herbalife24 demonstrates its commitment to quality assurance. The comprehensive performance nutrition line has been developed to power athletes 24-hours a day. The company is passionate about continuing to take a proactive approach to help people improve their nutritional habits with great-tasting, science-backed nutrition products to help everybody get the right balance of healthy nutrition. He went on to say one of the world's greatest soccer players, Cristiano Ronaldo uses and endorses the products.


    While Peter said that the products can help to boost nutrition for the elite athlete and for the regular exercisers, it did not mean that they would impart Ronaldo's incredible soccer skills!


    Professor Alan Bensoussan – the work of NICM is to benefit the health of all Australians

    Director of NICM Health Research Institute and Lady Cilento Award Recipient, Professor Alan Bensoussan, said that NICM was established with support from the federal and NSW state governments in 2007. He explained that NICM’s role was to provide leadership and support for strategically directed research into complementary medicine. 


    NICM aims to translate evidence into clinical practice and relevant policy to benefit the health of all Australians. The institute provides leadership and support for strategically directed research into complementary medicine and helps translate evidence into clinical practice and relevant policy to benefit the health of all Australians.


    NICM plays a critical national role in ensuring Australians have access to reliable evidence on complementary medicines and treatments in extensive use. It is recognised worldwide for its world-class research and innovations in integrative and complementary medicine. 


    Health Minister, Greg Hunt: Australia has the best regulated Complementary medicines sector in the world

    Introducing the Health Minister, the Honourable Greg Hunt, Carl Gibson stated that the delegation was delighted that he could attend the breakfast meeting since he is also leading the Australian Government response to the novel coronavirus outbreak.


    Mr Hunt spoke about the strong working association between CMA, TGA and the Government. 


    He explained that he was involved in pioneering the introduction of the Medicines and Medical Devices Regulatory (MMDR) reforms and launch of the new Natural Therapies Review. He underlined his belief that complementary medicines play an essential role in the preventative health agenda for all Australians.


    The Minister for Health also spoke about the Australian Government’s National Preventive Health Strategy which is now underway and forms part of the third pillar of the long-term National Health Plan.


    The long-term 10-year plan is formulated to build on strategic work that has already been developed or is currently being drafted. It includes the National Strategic Framework for Chronic Conditions, the National Obesity Strategy and the National Tobacco Strategy.

    The aim of the Strategy, said Greg Hunt. was to help Australians improve their health at all stages of life, through early intervention, better information, and targeting modifiable risk factors and the broader causes of poor health.


    In closing, the Health Minister said he was proud to work closely with CMA and the TGA to ensure a superior industry. Congratulating Australia's industry sector, Greg Hunt said: "Australia has the best regulated Complementary medicines sector in the world."





  • 13 Feb 2020 10:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    A reporter from the Sydney Morning Herald has once again taken a swipe at complementary medicines (https://www.smh.com.au/national/hundreds-harmed-by-glucosamine-as-doctors-warn-stop-taking-it-20200129-p53vq1.html) this time against one of the most popular supplements in Australia.


    The article says that "People who take one of Australia's most popular health supplements for osteoarthritis have been urged to stop taking the pills, with strong new evidence showing it doesn't help symptoms and one study revealing hundreds of people have been harmed by it."


    The Mayo Clinic

    The world-renowned Mayo Clinic in the USA, states: "Glucosamine sulfate might provide pain relief for people with osteoarthritis. The supplement appears to be safe and might be a helpful option for people who can't take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). While study results are mixed, glucosamine sulfate might be worth a try."[i]


    Arthritis Australia

    There is a large body of evidence that supports glucosamine's role in the treatment of mild osteoarthritis.

    Currently, Arthritis Australia says: "Recent studies have shown that the combination of glucosamine sulfate and chondroitin may be effective in slowing the breakdown of cartilage in the early stages of knee OA. Research has also shown that the combination may help in reducing moderate to severe knee pain from OA."[ii]


    From shellfish to vegan forms

    The article says that "The supplement is often made from shellfish and can cause serious allergic reactions." This is true for people who are allergic to shellfish. In Australia, labels state the source of glucosamine, and there are warnings regarding allergic reactions for those allergic to shellfish.

    Furthermore, the Australian complementary medicines industry is moving more and more towards vegan forms of glucosamine. Thus, the potential for allergy is not a concern for those with shellfish allergy if they choose a vegan derived form.


    Numerous governmental requirements

    There are numerous Government requirements for product warning statements generally, and allergen warning statements specifically. This includes substances sourced from/used in the manufacture of/or a known component of fish/crustacea/molluscs/shellfish/seafood/and many other allergens, by both the Department of Health’s Therapeutic Goods Administration for medicines, and by Foods Standard Australia and New Zealand for foods.


    Public health is uppermost

    The Australian Government engages with the industry, medical practitioners and consumers regarding the public health approaches to allergies and the regulatory approach to allergens within products. We at Complementary Medicines Australia regularly respond to the Government on regulatory issues and assist industry members regarding Government requirements.


    Glucosamine, like other active ingredients, can interact with prescribed medications, , which is why we recommend the advice of a healthcare practitioner before taking such supplements. The article says that side effects are rare – this is true and can be observed by searching the Therapeutic Goods Administration adverse-event notification database.


    Look at the label

    The article quotes" The Age and the Herald found several glucosamine products for sale that contained only a note’ they were "derived from seafood" in small print on the back of the bottle."

    In this context it needs to be understand the full range of regulatory requirements required on medicine labels, which include minimum letter height on label statements.

    Supplements are covered by a wide range of laws governing product and allergen warning statements. And, the regulator, the TGA is constantly updating guidelines to ensure Australia’s booming complementary health industry continues to enjoy its status as the most highly regulated in the world. No wonder discerning consumers around the world are choosing Australian complementary medicines.


    A raft of requirements

    A variety of requirements both directly and indirectly about the required declaration of allergens included in the Australian Government legislation, including:

    • Labelling standards for medicines (multiple currently in effect).
    • The Food Standards Code (for food products).
    • Certain Advertising standards.
    • The Therapeutic Goods Act and specific Therapeutic Goods Regulations.
    • Certain Therapeutic Goods legislative instruments (multiple in effect).


    Lastly, CMA reiterates that the industry and the regulator work closely to ensure products meet the highest standards for efficacy and safety.


    CMA has and will continue to work closely with the government and industry to ensure high quality research to ensure the safety and efficacy of complementary medicines made in Australia.


    If consumers are concerned about the source of ingredients in a particular medicine they can contact the sponsor of the medicine for more information.


    In fact, today (12 February 2020) Speaking at CMA healthy breakfast: at Parliament House the Honourable Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health said: “Australia has the best regulated Complementary medicines sector in the world.”



    [i] https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-glucosamine/art-20362874

    [ii] https://arthritisaustralia.com.au/managing-arthritis/living-with-arthritis/complementary-treatments-and-therapies/glucosamine-and-chondroitin/

  • 05 Feb 2020 12:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Taking calcium and vitamin D supplements could reduce the number of hip fractures in people aged 65 and over according to new research.

    New study shows that calcium and vitamin D supplements can prevent bone fracture

    Supplements can reduce bone fracture by 16%

    The study analysed data from 17 studies, involving nearly 84,000 people. Most people were in their late 60s or older. Results showed that those who took both calcium and vitamin D supplements were about 16% less likely to break a hip and 6% less likely to break any bone[i]. 


    Hip fractures can be life-threatening

    Hip fractures are severe and even life-threatening. In Australia, one in three adults aged 50 and over dies within 12 months of hip fracture[ii]. Older adults are five-to-eight times more likely to die within the first three months of a hip fracture compared to those without a fractured hip[iii]. And the increased risk of death remains for almost ten years[iv].


    Hip fractures set to rise

    An Australian is admitted to hospital with an osteoporotic fracture every five to six minutes. This rate is expected to rise to every three to four minutes by the year 2021, as our population ages and the number of osteoporotic fractures increase[v]. Compared to a fracture of any other bone, a hip fracture results in the most serious of all consequences.


    Nutrition and individualised physical therapy can aid recovery. But with poor appetite and concomitant chronic illnesses consuming a healthy mixed diet can be a challenge.


    Protection against bone breakages

    The study published in JAMA found that the combination of calcium and vitamin D afforded protection. No protection from bone breaks of any sort was found for those who took only vitamin D.


    Optimising nutrition

    Calcium and vitamin D work together. Calcium is the main mineral in bone and important for building strength. Vitamin D is vital to help the body absorb calcium. Sunlight is the major source of vitamin D, but for some elderly people, it can be difficult to get outside to enjoy the sun safely.



    [i] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2757873?utm_source=silverchair&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=article_alert-jamanetworkopen&utm_term=mostread&utm_content=olf-widget_01242020

    [ii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28093824

    [iii] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20231569

    [iv] https://academic.oup.com/jcem/article/99/12/4690/2834651

    [v] https://www.arthritisnsw.org.au/osteoporosis/osteoporosis-statistics/

  • 04 Feb 2020 1:37 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    By Carl Gibson

    Australia holds a unique opportunity to build capacity in a world-leading complementary medicine research sector and to contribute to informed healthcare choices around the globe. More significant support, encouragement of innovation and investment in Australian complementary medicines are some of the essential aspects of our agenda.

    CMA's CEO Carl Gibson

    Research in complementary medicine – the vital role of funding

    We are fortunate to be home to world-leading research institutions for complementary medicines including the Australian Research Centre in Complementary and Integrative Medicine (ARCCIM) at Sydney’s University of Technology and the NICM Health Research Institute (NICM) at Western Sydney University. ARCCIM is an excellent public health and health services research centre focusing on traditional, complementary and integrative health care; it brings experts in epidemiology and health economics together.

    The envy of the world

    A leading complementary medicine research institute in Australia, the NICM Health Research Institute has created a broad network of significant research partnerships with international organisations, including several prestigious universities, hospitals and other agencies in China, Asia, Europe and the US. The NICM Health Research Institute has recently moved to the Westmead precinct, one of the most significant health, education, research and training precincts in the Southern Hemisphere. The research facilities and capabilities of Australia in the field of natural and complementary therapies are the envy of the world, but funding is needed to capitalise on and cement this reputation.

    Australia also boasts excellent research centres outside of the university sector, such as the Endeavour College of Natural Health, The National Institute of Integrative Medicine (NIIM) and the Blackmores Institute.

    The Endeavour College of Natural Health is a leading higher education provider for complementary and integrative healthcare, in part due to the value placed upon practice-relevant research. In collaboration with universities and other medical bodies, NIIM researches the safety and efficacy of integrative medicine and complementary therapies for the prevention, detection and treatment of disease. It boasts Australia’s largest integrative medical centre, the NIIM Clinic. The Blackmores Institute, the academic and professional arm of Blackmores Limited, was established in 2012 with a vision to improve and promote the quality use of natural medicine via a focus on research and education.

    Probiotics, gut health, yoga and more

    Just a few examples of recently published research include nutrition and supplementation, probiotics and internal gut health, yoga, natural pain relief methods during childbirth, and the benefits of exercise in mental health. A Cochrane Review, published in November 2018, ‘Omega-3 fatty acid addition during pregnancy’ demonstrated high-quality evidence for omega-3 supplementation as an effective strategy for preventing preterm birth, the leading global cause of death in children under the age of five years.

    Given the potential benefits of complementary medicines as a tool towards preventive health, and that we now have world-class facilities poised to take flight in this critical research area, complementary medicines research should be a priority area for funding.

    CMA funding– top three recommendations to government

    As well as the general need for increased funding support for public health research in Australia, we are recommending that particular areas of research become a priority, including targeted additional support for complementary medicine research groups.

    For every dollar invested in Australian health research and development, $2.17 in health benefits is returned. Given the potential benefits of complementary medicines as a tool towards preventive health, complementary medicines research should be a priority area for funding.

    Beyond the general need for increased funding support for public health research in Australia, CMA recommends that particular areas of study be prioritised including targeted additional support for complementary medicine research groups.

    We’ll keep you informed of developments.

  • 31 Jan 2020 11:38 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    January 2020

    Time to Reveal Preventive Health Reform Vision

    CMA Pre-Budget Submission 2020-21

    Australia’s complementary medicines peak body, the CMA, is calling on the Federal Government to reveal a preventive health vision and invest in building a more sustainable health system for all Australians.

    Releasing the CMA’s Pre-Budget submission for the 2020-21 Federal Budget, CMA CEO Carl Gibson, said today that a greater focus on preventive health is required and to do so will require strong funding and targeted investment. 

    “Healthcare costs will continue to rise unless there is a shift towards early prevention, encouraging healthy and active ageing and supporting individuals in taking control over their health.

    “Australia has one of the highest performing health systems in the world. However, in common with other developed countries, our ageing population and increasing rates of chronic and complex health conditions are an increasing burden on the health system.

    “Preventive health interventions are the most cost-effective use of our health dollars. Investing in prevention and public health keeps people well and out of hospital, improving productivity and reducing pressure on the health system.

    “Preventive health is an essential move towards improving the cost-effectiveness of the health care system, by enhancing Australians’ health and quality of life and reducing preventable illness. In the case of complementary medicines, a thoughtful and rigorous strategy, coordinated by a preventive health body, would further demonstrate the cost-effectiveness and health benefits of complementary medicines for contributing to improved public health.

    “The 2020-21 Federal Budget provides the Government with the ideal opportunity to reveal its preventive health reform vision, through evidence-based and targeted preventive health programs for a more sustainable health system in Australia.

    CMA are pleased to put forward recommendations detailing priorities for the Federal Budget to make real change. Optimal Health of all Australians is the best investment government can make,” Carl Gibson said.

    The CMA’s Pre-Budget Submission sets out a range of recommendations that are achievable, affordable and will reduce costs in health care and serve to grow the economy.

    The CMA’s Pre-Budget Submission 2020-21 is available here.


    For more information, contact:

    Ravinder Lilly corporate marketing communications manager 0418928756

  • 22 Jan 2020 12:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Carl Gibson, CMA CEO

    Australia has one of the highest performing health systems in the world. But, in common with other developed countries, we are also experiencing an ageing population and increasing rates of chronic and complex health conditions. Spending on health has grown from $5,000 per person in 2006-07 to $7,100 per person in 2015-16. Half of all Australians have at least one chronic disease, and the need to place a stronger focus upon preventive health is becoming increasingly important.

    Complementary medicines and therapies are valuable ways to help manage chronic disease, prevent the exacerbation of illness, and to optimise nutrition and wellbeing

    An older and sicker population can only foreshadow higher healthcare costs in the future. That is unless there is a shift towards early prevention, encouraging healthy and active ageing, and supporting individuals in taking control over their health.

    Natural Therapies

    Natural therapies are recognised by the World Health Organization and by governments around the world as effective, appropriate and cost-effective solutions to helping people manage their healthcare. Complementary medicine practitioners emphasise nutrition, lifestyle modifications, and the importance of taking personal responsibility for health as fundamental principles for improving quality of life. Research conducted in Australia has demonstrated that the total number of client consultations is estimated at 16 million annually, contributing over AUD$1.8 billion to the economy each year.

    Rising out-of-pocket costs across the health sector; the ongoing debate

    From 1 April 2019, private health insurers were no longer permitted to provide cover for a wide range of natural therapies, including naturopathy, herbal medicine, yoga and tai chi. All of these have a strong evidence base supporting their use in good health promotion.

    An analysis carried out by PwC found that private health insurance members across all levels of hospital cover who also choose ancillary (extras) benefits for natural therapies claimed $200 per person less every year in hospital and medical costs; for members with top hospital cover it was $430 per person less claimed if they chose ancillary benefits for natural therapies.

    CMA has, strongly recommended, and continues stress to Government, that ceasing the private health rebate for natural therapies, such as herbal medicine and naturopathy, be reconsidered. This is in light of the evidence supporting the use of these natural therapies for cost-effectively contributing to good health.

    Complementary Medicines’ Role in Preventive Heath

    Individuals use complementary medicines as adjunctive therapy to conventional medicine, to help manage chronic disease, prevent the exacerbation of illness, and to optimise nutrition and wellbeing. There is robust evidence that complementary medicines are a cost-effective way to improve health outcomes.

    The 2017 McKell Institute report: Picking the low hanging fruit: Achieving a more equitable and sustainable healthcare system found that targeted, evidence-based uptake of certain complementary medicines results in notable cost savings in Australia, whilst delivering better health outcomes and greater equity. Through addressing some of the social determinants of health, which a poor diet, complementary medicines can play a role in addressing long-term health budget pressures.

    Increased uptake of vitamin D and calcium

    In Australia, between 31% and 58% of the population have vitamin D deficiency, despite the fortification of many foods with vitamin D. D deficiency has been linked to an increased prevalence of a number of chronic diseases, including osteoporosis, diabetes and heart disease. The McKell Institute estimates that up to 8,895 fractures annually could be avoided in Australia with increased uptake of vitamin D and calcium, saving the Government up to $142 million in direct health costs.

    Prenatal Vitamins

    Folate, iodine and vitamin B3 are known to prevent neural tube defects. Current Australian guidelines recommend routine supplementation of folate and iodine, with vitamin D and iron supplementation for pregnant women with identified deficiencies. Maternal malnutrition leads to adverse pregnancy outcomes and can lead to a long-term negative impact on growth and development during childhood and increases in the risk of developing chronic diseases later in life.

    CMA supports the recommendation of increasing the uptake of pregnancy vitamins by low-income mothers to help address health inequalities, estimated by the McKell Institute to cost between $26 million and $46 million per year, a small cost given the potential benefits to health equity and long-term savings from stemming the rise in prevalence of chronic diseases.

    National Preventive Health Body

    CMA supports the call to re-establish a National Preventive Health Body to evaluate evidence-based interventions at a population level, which is an important step towards placing good health at the centre of policymaking in Australia. A fundamental aim of any health system should be to prevent disease and reduce ill health so that people remain as healthy as possible for as long as possible.

    Preventive health is also an essential move towards improving the cost-effectiveness of the health care system, by enhancing Australians’ health and quality of life and reducing preventable illness. In the case of complementary medicines, a thoughtful and rigorous strategy, coordinated by the preventive health body, would further demonstrate the cost-effectiveness and health benefits of complementary medicines for contributing to improved public health. How will we do this? In three ways:

    1. Reinstate the private health rebate for natural therapies, in light of the evidence supporting the use of these natural therapies.

    2. Development of a strategy, in consultation with physician groups, to increase the uptake of vitamin D supplementation amongst at-risk groups, and the introduction of a scheme to provide free vitamins during pregnancy through medical practitioners for women that hold concession cards.

    3. Re-establish a national preventive health body to implement and evaluate population-wide prevention initiatives, improving the health and wellbeing of the community and providing long- term savings for the health budget.

  • 21 Jan 2020 10:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    There’s a change in the way that people are using complementary medicines and it’s being led by Millennials – female Australian Millennials to be precise.


    Young Australian women are changing the way complementary medicines are being used

    A major study published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine compared the way that young Generation X women (surveyed 1996; aged 18–23 years), and young Millennial women (surveyed 2014; aged 19–24 years) regarding consultations with complementary medicine (CM) practitioners. 

    CM as part of everyday health strategy

    Women in the Generation X range tended to use CMs when their health was poor according to data from the Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health. Whereas young Millennial women tend to use CMs as part of their everyday health strategy, to maintain and enhance health rather than as a treatment for ill health. This highlights the emphasis Millennials place on wellness. The increased use of CMs may be due to several reasons, from increased availability, more media exposure as well as research into their use and mechanism of action.


    And these young women are using CMs despite them not being publicly funded or subsidised in the Australian healthcare system.


    The study showed that the use of CM by young women was consistently linked with positive health behaviours such as lower smoking or alcohol consumption and higher levels of physical activity - trends which are seen across the Australian population.


    Motivations for health

    Researchers are not sure about the perceptions motivating young women’s decisions to engage in positive health behaviours and why they choose to use CM. It may be that through CM use that women are choosing other healthy lifestyle choices.


    Demonstrating an increased CM utilisation prevalence in young Australian women from 1996 to 2014, the study identified several predictors of CM usage across Generation X and Millennial generations. These include non-urban residence, and the presence of specific health conditions such as back pain, and frequent headaches.


    Clinical benefits

    The researchers suggested that the consistent use of CM by women who report having these conditions may reflect the clinical benefit they experience from their chosen treatments. Equally, being dissatisfied with  available conventional treatments for these conditions may also be driving the higher rates of CM use.


    Obese young women or those who reported regular smoking were less likely to use CM practices say the researchers, who go on to highlight the potential for continued increases in CM use as Millennials approach middle age and beyond.


    CM use in the future

    The authors state: “The potential for unprecedented proportions of Australia women accessing CM in the future is set if current young Millennial women follow CM utilization trends that increase with advancing age. These predicted future increases in CM utilization among middle-aged and older Australian women should be prepared for in urban and rural settings as well as accounted for in Australian health care access and policy planning.”




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