ASMI Media Releases – 1. Code of Practice Review 2. CM Research a Priority 3. Response to Four Corners Program

Annual Review of the ASMI Code of Practice
08 June 2016

ASMI is undertaking the annual review of our Code of Practice and as part of that review we are seeking suggestions for potential revisions to the Code.

If you have any suggestions for how the ASMI Code of Practice might be revised, please complete this form and return it to by 12 July 2016.

A copy of the current ASMI Code of Practice is available on our website HERE.

Please do not hesitate to contact Steve Scarff (02 9922 5111) if you would like to discuss in more detail.

Investment in complementary medicine research a priority, says ASMI
06 June 2016

In a submission to the Federal Government on funding priorities for the $20 billion Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF), the Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) said complementary medicine research is needed to build the evidence base about the safety, efficacy and public health benefits of these products and to better inform healthcare policy decisions.

The submission, ‘ Complementary Medicines for Better Health’, was prepared by the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), with input from ASMI.

It advocates for funding of complementary medicine research projects to facilitate informed policy decisions on the use of complementary medicines in preventive health and in promoting general health and wellbeing.

ASMI Strategy Manager, Complementary Medicines, Brenda Davy, said: “Complementary medicines is currently the largest and fastest growing segment in health care, with 70 per cent of consumers taking vitamins, minerals and supplements1.

“We know that consumers take complementary medicines to prevent some chronic conditions and contribute to their general health. We also know that if taken on a population-wide basis these medicines  can have positive health outcomes and reduce the financial burden on government2,3,4.,

“However, more research is needed on complementary medicines to provide consumers with the information they need to make informed decisions about their health.

“Equally, policymakers need sound research on which to base healthcare policy and funding decisions.

“Complementary medicines are used in a variety of clinical settings such as general practice, hospitals and allied health practices. We need to know more about how they are being used in these settings,” she added.


  1. Macquarie University (2015) Consumer Behaviour Factbook.
  2. Shanahan, C. and de Lorimer, R. (2014) Targeted Use of Complementary Medicines: Potential Health Savings in Australia.
  3. Shanahan, C. and de Lorimer, R. (2013) Smart Prevention – Healthcare Cost Savings Resulting from Targeted Use of Dietary Supplements.
  4. Frost and Sullivan (2016) Healthcare Cost Savings of Omega 3 Food Supplements in the European Union.


ASMI Response to Four Corners Program
17 May 2016

Statement by the Chief Executive Officer of ASMI, Dr Deon Schoombie
ABC Four Corners program, ‘Supplements and Safety – The hidden dangers of vitamins and health supplements’ broadcast on 16 May 2016
The episode broadcast on Four Corners was a wholly-US program that examined the use of dietary supplements from a US perspective, but with limited relevance to the situation in Australia.
The fact is that there are significant differences between the way the US and Australia regulate these products.
In Australia, complementary medicines are regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). This is considered one of the most rigorous systems for regulating supplements in the world, and companies marketing complementary medicines must comply with a range of TGA requirements.
Features of the Australian regulation of complementary medicines include:
Complementary medicines (e.g. fish oil, vitamins and mineral supplements) are regulated as medicines in Australia and must be manufactured to medicinal standards in TGA approved sites·
The TGA conducts a safety assessment on ingredients in Listed (displaying an AUST L number) complementary medicines·
Complementary medicines must contain the ingredients listed on the label and no other active ingredients, and they must only be produced from ingredients approved as low-risk by the TGA·
The TGA routinely conducts manufacturing site inspections, sampling and testing of products in the market to monitor compliance·
Companies marketing complementary medicines can only make limited claims regarding their effectiveness and are required to hold evidence supporting those claims·
All complementary medicines legally available for sale in Australia must be included on the TGA’s publicly accessible database, the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG)·
The TGA maintains a rigorous system for recording, monitoring and responding to adverse events for all medicines, including complementary medicines.·
The features of the Australian regulatory environment are very different to those in the US that were featured in the Four Corners program, and they should give Australian consumers a high level of confidence in the safety and efficacy of their medicines.
For ASMI, consumer safety is the highest priority and consumers are reminded to only purchase regulated complementary medicines in Australia from reputable sources, and not from overseas.
Consumers should also follow label instructions and warning statements, they should report any adverse reactions, and should consult with a healthcare professional about possible interactions with other medicines.

The Four Corners program also raised issues in relation to omega-3 fish oil supplements.
The majority of Australian do not eat enough fish, and omega-3 supplements play an important role in helping people to consume adequate marine-sourced omega-3s.
Companies that market fish oil products in Australia must comply with TGA requirements including strict manufacturing standards that maximise the purity of these products.
Australian consumers can be confident that fish oil products available in Australia are of the highest quality as they are required to comply with medicinal manufacturing standards.
As with all medicines, fish oil products must be labelled with an expiry date, and products are required to comply with content standards for the duration of their shelf life.
About ASMI: The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) is the peak body representing sponsors of non-prescription medicines – over-the-counter (OTC) and complementary medicines (CM). ASMI members make up 80 per cent of the $4.5bn Non-Prescription Medicines market. Membership totals 55 companies and ASMI members employ approximately 6,000 people with exports estimated at $1.5 billion annually. ASMI’s mission is to advance consumer health through responsible self-care. This means driving a viable and responsible industry and empowering the consumer with evidence-based products and information with the aim of improving health and wellbeing. To find out more about ASMI, please visit (

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