Leading national complementary medicine agency to receive significant funding
The National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) has announced at an event held in Sydney today that it has received $2.9 million in funding from philanthropic and industry supporters.
This funding will ensure NICM can continue to drive the complementary medicine research sector in Australia and provide a vital link between researchers, practitioners, industry and government.
The major part of the funding has been received from the privately owned Jacka Foundation of Natural Therapies (JFNT). Their $2 million bequest will be used to establish The Jacka Foundation Chair in Complementary Medicine in partnership with the University of Western Sydney (UWS).UWS has committed to endowing the Professorial Chair to support research undertaken by NICM. The Chair will oversee NICM operations and provide clear, expert support for research development and integration of evidence-based complementary medicine into healthcare services.
Leading companies Flordis, Blackmores and Catalent will become supporting partners of NICM, each committing additional financial support.
According to NICM's interim executive director Professor Alan Bensoussan, the landmark donation from JFNT combined with industry and university support will secure NICM as a strong, national agency for Australia.
"This is an extraordinary gift and it is truly exciting to see this level of philanthropic support for complementary medicine research in Australia," says Professor Bensoussan. "Our supporting partners recognise the importance of NICM's work and the need for a national agency."
"Our primary goal will still be to increase the integration of well-evidenced complementary medicine into routine healthcare by enabling translation of evidence into clinical practice and relevant policy to benefit the health of all Australians."
NICM will continue to work alongside government and other industry agencies to guide sector reform and policy development, review and develop clinical practice guidelines, disseminate information on relevant evidence-based research and encourage further investment in the sector.
Priority will be given to the identification and refinement of research priorities and the development of clinical guidelines. Further studies on the cost effectiveness of complementary medicines in the prevention and treatment of a range of health conditions will also be undertaken.
For more information or to arrange interviews please contact:
Dimity Pinto, NICM Media and Communications Officer, on 0412 164 333
Complementary medicine at a glance
The complementary medicine (CM) sector is an important contributor to the Australian economy. It is a $3.1b industry that provides employment for 29,000 Australians. It is estimated that 2 in 3 Australians use CM each year and 42% do so to prevent or manage chronic conditions identified as national health priorities. This is one of the highest consumption rates per capita in developed nations and the CM sector is expected to continue to grow at 6 percent per annum over the next few years.
These high usage rates have lead to 90 percent of medical practitioners expressing an interest in increasing their understanding of CM. There is also growing evidence that CM can make a significant, cost-effective contribution to chronic (non-communicable) diseases. There is a need to strengthen this evidence and identify and utilise validated interventions.
Australia has significant strengths in complementary medicine research. However, there is a pressing need to build critical mass and better co-ordinate research effort.
The National Health and Medical Research Council 2010-2012 Strategic Plan includes a focus on examining the evidence underlying the alternative medicines most highly used in order to provide advice to assist informed decision-making and improved self-management.
University of Western Sydney (UWS)
UWS is spread over six campuses in Greater Western Sydney. It has a dynamic research culture with multidisciplinary research undertaken across a range of areas including culture, society, health and the environment.
UWS has been a long-term supporter of research and education in complementary medicine. The Centre for Complementary Medicine Research was established in 2001 and is now recognised internationally for world-class research in traditional Chinese Medicine. UWS's visionary leadership in complementary medicine research was highlighted when the University decided to host the National Institute of Complementary Medicine, established in 2007 by the Federal and NSW state governments. UWS will continue to be a key driver of complementary medicine research and education with the creation of the Professorial Chair in Complementary Medicine Research in 2012.
The Jacka Foundation for Natural Therapies (JFNT)
JFNT is a not-for-profit company and charitable fund that aims to improve awareness, understanding and use of natural therapies within the Australian community and to improve the knowledge and educational base underpinning their use. It was formally established in May 2010 by a company of members of the previous entity, the Southern School of Natural Therapies Ltd, who have a long history of involvement in complementary medicine education.
The Foundation's key goals include supporting relevant research and educational activities that improve understanding and effective utilisation of complementary medicine. JFNT's support of NICM is its single biggest investment in complementary medicine and demonstrates its support for the integration of evidence-based complementary medicine into mainstream healthcare.
Flordis Natural Medicines
Flordis is a leader in the development of natural medicines that meet the highest standards of efficacy, quality and safety. Flordis takes the view that all its products should meet the same clinical standards as synthetic pharmaceutical products. Flordis products have been the subject of hundreds of clinical trials and have been used by millions of people worldwide.
At the heart of the Flordis approach is the concept of 'specifically clinically proven natural medicines'. This ensures that the product used by the patient is identical to the product that has been proven effective in clinical trials. This is achieved through rigorous 'Seed to Patient' quality procedures pursuing standardisation of each step of the production process - from growing of the plant, to the harvesting and storage, extraction, manufacturing and, finally, to its use in systematic clinical trials.
A focus on investing in developing specific evidence is central to the Flordis corporate ethos. Flordis products are currently part of the two largest National Health and Medical Research Council trials on herbal medicines. Additionally, Flordis has committed to spending over $1 million in the next three years on two significant trials for KeenMind*.
Blackmores is Australia's leading natural health brand, with strong market positions in New Zealand, Thailand, Malaysia and a growing presence in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and South Korea.
Innovation is a key driver of business growth for Blackmores. The business is committed to a strong new product pipeline, based on the latest research and scientific findings to enable them provide quality health solutions with a strong evidence base.
Blackmores' involvement in research ranges from product supply to research projects through to the full funding of clinical trials. The Blackmores Research Centre at Southern Cross University, in regional NSW, reviews studies on all aspects of natural health from around the world and seeks appropriate partners with which to share research and commercial opportunities through licensing and supply arrangements. Blackmores has been a key contributor to building the knowledge base about natural health products for more than 70 years.
From drug and biologic development services to delivery technologies to supply solutions, Catalent Pharma Solutions has the deepest expertise, the broadest offerings and the most unique technologies in the industry. With over 75 years of experience, Catalent helps customers get more molecules to market faster, enhance product performance, and provide global, reliable supply. Catalent employs more than 8,000 people at 20+ facilities worldwide and in fiscal year 2011 generated more than $1.6 billion in annual revenue. Catalent's Australian headquarters are in Melbourne.
The National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM) was originally established bi-partisan support from the Federal and NSW Governments in 2007. Hosted by the University of Western Sydney, NICM 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.
During its first three years of operation NICM established three Collaborative Centres with additional industry funding, demonstrated the cost effectiveness of a range of complementary medicine interventions in collaboration with Access Economics, funded several integrative healthcare pilot studies and galvanised a $75 million strong Cooperative Research Centre bid. The Institute has provided the vital link between researchers, practitioners, industry and government.
The Collaborative Centres have supported the professional development of 13 PhD students and 21 postdoctoral fellows and research associates. NICM has made significant progress in advancing a collaborative approach to complementary medicine research aligned with national health priorities. It has also established a reputation as an independent, authoritative voice for the complementary medicine sector.
Over the next three years (2012-14) NICM will focus on guiding sector reform, including creating better incentives to invest in research and improved integration of evidence-based interventions into mainstream practice.
The Institute will continue to identify and refine national research priorities, contribute to the development of clinical practice guidelines and work alongside government, consumers, industry and other stakeholders to strengthen relevant policy.
Support for NICM as an independent national agency for policy development and research leadership in complementary medicine remains strong.
16 December 2011