MEDICINE AND HEALTH POLICY
MEDICINE AND HEALTH POLICY
Australia shaken by complementary medicines recall
onfidence in Australia’s
medicines industry has been
shaken after the Therapeutic
(TGA) suspended the
production licence of Pan
leading manufacturer of
complementary medicines. Rights were not granted to include this image in electronic
After a 3-month audit, the
TGA suspended Pan’s licence media. Please refer to the printed journal.
for 6 months on April 28.
The audit found evidence of
manipulation of test results,
processes, and substitution of
ingredients. The TGA also
ordered an urgent recall of
1546 products made by Pan.
The TGA first became
aware of Pan Pharmaceuticals Pharmacists have been ordered to remove Pan Pharmaceutical’s products from their shelves
after reports of adverse
reactions to its anti-travel are better informed and they
sickness product, Travacalm, can make better choices.” Coordination centre for UK
in January. Faulty batches of Martyn Goddard, Health
the product were responsible Policy Officer at the Biobank project announced
for 19 people being admitted Australian Consumers
to hospital and 68 people he University of Manchester has been selected to host
having serious adverse
reactions. The TGA
Association, criticised the
government’s failure to
properly resource the TGA.
T the coordination centre for the UK Biobank project, the
Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, and the
subsequently found that some “There is now a proper Department of Health announced in a joint statement on
batches of the tablets challenge to the regulators May 7.
contained up to seven times and the complementary The controversial project aims to link DNA samples and
the amount of the active medicine industry to prove lifestyle data with the medical records of up to 500 000
ingredient—hyoscine products work and are safe. individuals aged 45–69 years, who are then tracked for
hydrobromide. This is an industry that has 30 years, to explore the role of genes and environment on
On May 8, Pan terminated existed on faith rather than health. Experts hope the national database, which has
the services of its general science”, he said. received initial funding of £45 million (US$ 72 million), will
manager, John Brennan, after “Unfortunately, most enable scientists to determine which factors are responsible
share register records revealed consumers believe that when for disorders such as heart disease, cancer, Parkinson’s
that Brennan, his wife, and a health claim is made for a disease, and diabetes (see http://www.biobank.ac.uk).
other members of his family product, there is solid The Manchester headquarters will have overall
sold their shares in Pan just scientific evidence behind responsibility for delivering the project and will be
over a week after an audit by it—but there is more snake oil responsible for participant recruitment, initial data and
the TGA in February. and quackery than in the 19th sample collection, and coordinating the activities of six
The debate has now shifted century. We need more data. regional collaborating centres.
to focus on the efficacy of If a product works, we need “Manchester welcomes the opportunity to host this
complementary medicines. to know that, if a product landmark project to determine the contributions of both
“These products are simply doesn’t work, we need to nature and nurture to human health”, commented Bill
listed for risk management, know that as well—to a high Ollier, professor in immunogenetics at the university.
assessed on an audit basis, level of scientific certainty. “Hosting the coordinating centre for Biobank UK
and included on an adverse- And on top of that, consolidates Manchester’s position as an international centre
event register. It is not the consumers need to be sure of of excellence in genetics.”
same level of scrutiny as manufacturing quality. This is Biobank’s chief executive, John Newton, said: “This
registered pharmaceuticals”, an industry at the crossroads. announcement heralds the next phase of UK Biobank.
Mitch Messer, Chairperson What happens next could be Setting up the coordinating centre in Manchester and
of the Consumers’ Health seen to be the good that developing capacity in the regional collaborating centres will
Forum of Australia, told The comes of the Pan drive the project forward in an exciting way.”
Lancet. “People have made Pharmaceuticals recall.”
assumptions about what they Helen Frankish
are buying. At least now they Bebe Loff, Helen McKelvie
1710 THE LANCET • Vol 361 • May 17, 2003 • www.thelancet.com
For personal use. Only reproduce with permission from The Lancet Publishing Group.