ASMI Media Release – 1. Zinc lozenges reduce duration of common cold 2. Australia lags NZ in “switches”

New study found zinc lozenges reduce duration of common cold
19 March 2015 –

The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) welcomed a new study, which revealed that high dose zinc acetate lozenges reduce the duration of the common cold.
The study, a meta-analysis of three placebo-controlled, randomised, double blind studies, was published in the journal, BMC Family Practice.
It found that high dose zinc acetate lozenges shortened the duration of nasal discharge by 34 per cent; nasal congestion by 37 per cent; sneezing by 22 per cent; scratchy throat by 33 per cent; sore throat by 18 per cent and cough by 46 per cent1 .

Steve Scarff, ASMI Director of Regulatory and Scientific Affairs, said: “This study is great news. It provides robust evidence of the efficacy and safety of zinc lozenges in reducing symptoms of the common cold.

“The study is particularly important as it demonstrated that higher doses of zinc are well tolerated for short periods of time.
While the doses referred to in the study are not allowed in Australia, the results indicate the efficacy of zinc in relieving common cold symptoms.

“We welcome new research such as this study that adds to the evidence base for complementary medicines,” he added.


References 1. Hemila, H. and Chalker, E. The effectiveness of high dose zinc acetate lozenges on various common cold symptoms: a meta-analysis. BMC Family Practice, 2015, 16:24.


Australia behind New Zealand on switch
19 March 2015 –

The Australian Self Medication Industry (ASMI) says New Zealand is ahead of Australia in increasing consumer access to medicines.
This was in response to a new study published in PLOS One, which compared consumer access to medicines in Australia and New Zealand.
The study concluded that conservatism and political influences have a negative impact on rescheduling (“switch”) activity in Australia when compared to New Zealand, which has a more progressive approach to switch1 .

A number of medicines such as trimethoprim for urinary tract infection; triptans for migraine; oseltamivir for flu and flu vaccines are available in New Zealand as over-the-counter (OTC) medicines but still require a prescription in Australia.

ASMI Executive Director Dr Deon Schoombie said:
“This study reinforces results of an earlier study, which demonstrated that New Zealand was the most active country in progressive switches from 2003 to 2013, followed by the United Kingdom and Japan. Australia was one of three countries that showed the least switch activity during the decade 2 . “

One of ASMI’s top priorities is to pursue reforms in this area.
The current Australian scheduling environment is not conducive to increasing access to non-prescription medicines.

“ASMI is calling on the Federal Government to support a multi-stakeholder review of the Australian scheduling environment; develop a scheduling policy and ‘switch agenda’, and reform the regulatory framework to support the rescheduling of medicines, consistent with the National Medicines Policy.

“Increasing access to medicines has the potential to make meaningful contributions towards creating a sustainable healthcare system and to have a significant impact on individual and public health,” Dr Schoombie added.


1. Gauld, N. et al. Widening consumer access to medicines: A comparison of prescription to non-prescription medicine switch in Australia and New Zealand. PLOS ONE, Published 18 March 2015.

2. Gauld, N. et al. Widening consumer access to medicines through switching medicines to nonprescription: A six country comparison. PLOS ONE, Published: September 24, 2014 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107726,

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