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Edition #6
May 2006

New self-regulation objectives
THE Health Products Association continues to negotiate with the Department of Health to implement acceptable and appropriate regulations for complementary medicine but is also pushing ahead with plans to set up a self-regulatory structure that will both assist the DoH and protect the industry from unethical practices and unscrupulous marketers.

HPA chairman Dr Alan Tomlinson was quoted in the previous issue of HPA Headlines as saying that urgent, proactive steps were required to protect the health industry and its consumers. “Certain operators are taking advantage of the current regulatory limbo by taking chances with the safety, quality and efficacy of products being placed in the market. This is totally unacceptable,” he said.
Dr Alan Tomlinson

The vision of providing a self-regulatory body or mechanism from within the industry is exciting, and several meetings have taken place with stakeholders since January. But what is emerging is the enormity of the task in carrying out such an objective.

“We’d be setting up the equivalent of a mini-Department of Health,” Dr Tomlinson commented,” and with that comes the question of funding, staffing, constitutional structure, monitoring policy, proper legal foundation – and a host of other logistic and organisational challenges.”

Nevertheless, the HPA is determined to persevere with this process – and the next meeting (taking place on 10 May) will look at modifying the objectives. “We feel we must provide a service to support what the DoH is unable to do at present but we might have to lower our sights. We need to be able to chew what we bite off!”

Dr Tomlinson added that alternative names for the initiative were also being considered. “We’re looking at something like the Consumer Health Product Protection Authority – and suggestions from our members would be welcome.”



The HPA would like to pay tribute to Tessa Goldsworthy who was hijacked and senselessly killed in the driveway of her home in Craighall Park on 21 April. Tessa worked alongside many HPA members, selling books at public functions we have held over the years. She become a great friend to many of us, and her enthusiasm and love of life was boundless - even during this last year while she mourned the untimely death of her husband. Tessa will be hugely missed by so many of us in the industry and it has been a huge privilege to have called her our friend.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family: David and his wife; Peter; Annie and her husband and youngest son, Robert - also known to us as he used to assist Tessa; and the two young grand-children, Craig and Megan, who were in the car and whom Tessa protected with her life. They have lost a wonderful warm and loving person, as we all have. Rest in peace, dear Tessa - we shall miss you so.

Deirdre Allen



DEIRDRE Allen reports that the growing demand for health products and services means that the industry needs more expos and exhibitions formulated specifically to showcase what’s available in South Africa. There are several events coming up that fit the bill.
Last year’s Healthy Living Expo that took place alongside the Gauteng Outdoor Adventure Experience was so successful that the organizers, Celebrate Afrika, plan to repeat the combined venture - twice. Healthy Living will run concurrently with the Gauteng Outdoor Adventure Experience at Kyalami in Johannesburg from 15 to 18 June.
It will also be part of the Cape Outdoor Adventure Experience at the Western Cape Bien Donne Wine Farm from 29 September to 1 October.
These will provide exhibitors with exposure to large consumer audiences. The focus of these shows is health and beauty products, lifestyle choices and slimming solutions. Only 50 stands are available so book now to secure your place at this popular event.


THE South African Board of Healthcare Funders has given the nod to approval to therapeutic massage - and the modality can now join the ranks of allied health professions whose services may be reimbursed by medical aid schemes.
Commenting on this important milestone in complementary medicine, chairperson of the Massage Therapy Association of South Africa, Sandra Wilson, said that the therapy had previously been relegated to the leisure and recreation sector. “As a result, the important role therapeutic massage can play in treating a variety of conditions and preventing the development of musculo-skeletal and other work-related conditions, has been overlooked.”
This has now changed with the Board of Healthcare Funders’ announcement that it will issue practice numbers to therapeutic massage therapists registered with the Allied Health Professions Council. “This is a clear sign that TMT is considered a relevant, viable and safe treatment option for patients,” said Ms Wilson. “It also indicates trust in the efficacy, integrity and accountability of the profession as well as the training of future therapists.”



The Natural & Organics Exhibition held in Cape Town last year was well supported – and the 2006 version sees it moving to the Sandton Convention Centre from the 6 to 8 October.

Due to customer demand, the four largest retail groups are looking to carry natural and organic products on their shelves and need reliable suppliers. Buyers are looking for natural and organic food products and beverages of all descriptions, organic disinfectants, cosmetics, body and skin care products, organic and eco-friendly textiles, organic agricultural products and equipment, sustainable and renewable energy solutions as well as waste management, healthy lifestyle products and natural and complementary medicine. If your company has anything to offer along these lines, make sure you’re there!



The HPA is pleased to note the appointment of Ms Mandisa Hela as the new Registrar of Medicines, a position that charges her with overseeing the Medicines Control Council and evaluating new medicines and drug trials. Ms Hela brings a background of several years’ experience in dealing with pharmaceutical regulations to the position and was formerly the Department of Health’s head of pharmaceutical policy and planning. Said HPA chairman, Dr Alan Tomlinson: “We are looking forward to working with Ms Hela in order to facilitate the implementation of proper regulations for complementary medicine.”


THE body and energy balancing technique of kinesiology is growing in popularity as a form of complementary therapy – and can also be used at a personal level to help family and friends improve well-being and keep aches and pains at bay.
Registered trainer Gabby Fels is offering tuition in kinesiology as well as Touch For Health courses in Bryanston from 6 May.
Find out more by ringing her on 082-896-3878.


THE Health Sense Directory 2005/6 has been launched. Also known to as The South African Natural & Holistic Health Directory 2005/6, this is a directory with a difference. According to publisher and editor Wanda Bruce, it is more than just a reference guide. “It contains in-depth articles on a variety of health subjects designed to educate the consumer from an integrated perspective.”
The directory contains sections on conscious living, lifestyle information, complementary therapies, mental health, spas, wellness, an integrated approach to SA health care and an HPA survey on the health products industry.
This 200 page mine of information retails at R57 and is available from health shops and certain CNA outlets and newsagents.



A ‘first-of-a-kind’ conference focusing on the challenges facing complementary health practitioners is to be held in Johannesburg later this year. Organised by the School of Hand and Foot Reflexology, the partnership between alternative, complementary and allopathic healthcare modalities is the conference theme – and HPA chairman, Dr Alan Tomlinson, will be keynote speaker.

Said school principal, Sharon de Raan: “Part of the solution to the challenges facing complementary healthcare in South Africa lies in the cross-pollination of multidisciplinary practices and approaches – and we have top international and national allopathic and complementary healthcare professionals presenting papers.”

Speakers include Dr Carol-Ann Benn, a specialist in breast health, oncologist Dr Gulzar Malik, nutritional specialist Liz Graham, allergy specialist Dr Nadia Grigorova and therapeutic aromatherapist Jacky Estany. Dr Tomlinson will discuss the role of nutritional supplements, micronutrients, anti-oxidants and co-enzymes in complementary health as well as touch on the latest research and legislative issues.

“We are also providing a platform where therapeutic reflexology, aromatherapy and massage practitioners will have the opportunity to gain insight into the latest developments, research and techniques in their fields,” added du Raan.

The conference takes place in Johannesburg from 29 September to 1 October.



MALARIA currently affects 200 to 450 million people annually, causing up to 2,7 millions deaths – and an international meeting held recently in Nairobi focused on the development of new herbal anti-malaria drugs.
The Africa Herbal Anti-malaria Meeting was hosted by the Centre for the Development of Enterprise and the International Centre for Research in Agroforestry with support from other partners, and brought together approximately 75 participants from 21 different countries. South African delegate, Professor Roy van Brummelen of Biomox Pharmaceuticals, reports that his most overwhelming impression of the meeting was the unbelievable impact of this disease. “It’s not only by the lives it takes, “ he said, “but its impact on the families left behind and the economy of the region.”

The objectives of the meeting were to encourage collaborative research and development, and to promote investment in the cultivation, processing, testing, manufacturing and distribution of safe and efficacious herbal anti-malarials. Various private and public initiatives in Africa are looking at new approaches to malaria, many involving the production and processing of the Chinese herbal remedy Artimesia annua and other related products. One of the most effective new drugs to emerge (declared in 2002 by the World Health Organisation as the drug of choice) is based on Artimesia.

Prof van Brummelen commented that even though significant progress had been made - especially with Artimesia (specifically in combination with other existing treatments) - treatment of the disease was still hampered by problems. “The major restraint is cost,” he said. “The currently accepted, most effective, treatment regime is unaffordable for a large percentage of patients.”

Logistics are another major constraint as most infections occur in rural areas, which are inaccessible by normal transport. The third concern raised was that of regulatory control: it is difficult to develop new products due to the cost of complying with the regulatory requirements for clinical trials in different countries. It was suggested that new drugs be developed in closer collaboration with the WHO, who should then be the licensed holder of the product, sub-licensing it to manufacturers.

“We are searching for the solution for Africa from Africa,” added Prof van Brummelen, “and all participants were united in the common goal of fighting this terrible disease.”

SUPPORTERS of omega-3 fish oil supplementation received a shock when a review of studies published in the March 2006 British Medical Journal Cochrane meta-analysis of fish oil studies found no cardiovascular or cancer benefits from fish oil.

Asked for comment, HPA executive member, Brent Murphy of Fine Pharmaceuticals, stressed that the study included only half the trials and studies (up to 2003) that the January 2006 Journal of the American Medical Association metanalysis did (up to 2005).

“This means that the RAND NIH study that showed 40% reduction in cardiovascular diseases and 20% reduction in all mortality with good fish/fish oil intake is more credible,” he said.
Earlier studies had suggested that omega-3 fatty acids could play a major role in helping to prevent heart disease, rheumatoid arthritic and some types of cancer.

THE Irish Food Safety Promotion Board in partnership with the Irish Agriculture and Food Development Agency is planning to examine aspects of the natural health product sector. Entitled An investigation into the presence of anti-nutritional and toxic compounds in health foods, the project will focus primarily on the occurrence of two types of natural toxins: aristolochic acids (to be measured in herbal products by chromatographic techniques) and micocystins (to be screened in algae products using immunochemical assay techniques). The Irish Health Trade Association and suppliers of Blue-Green algae, Chlorella and Spirulina products, have been asked to assist with the project.

NEW UK guidelines have been published by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence to tackle the growing problem of malnutrition in the over 65s, which affects over 60% in hospitals and 40% in care homes. Oral nutrition, which includes multivitamin and mineral tablets and capsules, is one of the methods of nutritional support the Guidelines propose to remedy the problem.


PROMPTED by the concern of senior officials about the safety of supplementation, the American military is surveying its personnel with respect to their use of supplements.
A previous army survey found that 40% of soldiers used one or more supplements and 30% reported significant side effects such as dizziness, alteration of consciousness, weakness and cardiac symptoms – reactions that might be anticipated if there was a combination of stimulant products and high consumption of drinks containing caffeine. At that time, the military’s concern focused on ephedra and other stimulants and, to some degree, creatine and similar bodybuilding supplements.
Now, however, there is growing disquiet within some military circles that supplements are ‘unregulated’ and therefore require greater scrutiny. Captain Christie Peaden, an aerospace physiologist, commented: “The survey will help the Air Force keep track of what supplements people are taking so we can educate airmen on any dangers that may go with taking supplements.”


HPA member McNabs Wellth has added publishing to their achievements with their release of a guide to healthy cooking for children called SAVVY KIDS FOOD.Written by company founder Rupert McKeeron and wife Sarah, the book is delightfully illustrated and packed with helpful info on nutrition as well as a host of really simple recipes that should not only get the kids’ mouths watering but those of everyone around the table!

Sarah said that, as a mother of small children, she is always concerned that they eat the right food to get the nutrients they need. “As a consumer, I always thought that if a large food company was behind a product it was unquestionably good for you and that the picture on the outside of the packaging matched the insides. This is rarely true. Many of these products are high in fat, sugar, preservatives and colourants and are highly processed – which can create all sorts of health and learning problems. I believe that, as mothers, we must do everything we can to feed our children better food."

Rupert’s view is that the food crisis we face is not so much a “conspiracy” to dumb children down but is the result of the drive for cheaper and more convenient food. “Unfortunately, our quest for such food has reached a point of negative return – and the trade-off is higher medical bills and problem children."

LONGSTANDING HPA company Nu-Hair is in avid new hands. Nu-Hair was established by the late Robbie Freeman 28 years ago and was a pioneer in the natural products industry. A founder member of the HPA, Freeman was highly regarded within the industry, and Nu-Hair’s new owner, Paul Jonker – MD of Avid Brands - is determined to keep the tradition established by Freeman well and truly alive.

“Robbie was very ethical,” Jonker said. ‘He stuck to the letter of the law – and we intend to keep this legacy and culture intact.’ So intact, in fact, that he has not only retained all the Nu-Hair staff but Freeman’s wife and son now also work with Avid Brands.

Commenting on his acquisition of the respected company, Jonker said that Nu-Hair was bigger than what they were originally looking for but they were thrilled with the move and had great plans for the future. “Our background is in the health care environment,” he explained, “so for us, Nu-Hair was a perfect opportunity.” He described his business as promoting cosmoceuticals – pharmaceuticals combined with personal care products.


Provided by HPA President Bruce Dennison from the IADSA Updates

It’s regulations and more regulations on the agenda all around the globe ….

THE US Federal Trade Commission has filed complaints against 14 companies over the past year for making allegedly unsubstantiated or false claims for dietary supplements and natural health care products. The FTC has also obtained orders against 40 companies and 44 people - resulting in the defendants having to pay over $35 million in consumer redress and civil penalties.

A statement from the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection declared: “Although many supplements offer the potential for real health benefits to consumers, unproved products and inaccurate information can pose a threat to the health and well-being of consumers and cause economic injury.”

Because of concerns that products targeted at children may only have been tested for safety on adults, if at all, future FTC activity will particularly focus on products targeted at young people.


THE inconsistency of irradiation regulations throughout the world has been highlighted in a report from the UK Institute of Food Science. Irradiation is supported as a process safe for foods by the World Health Organisation as well as the Food and Agriculture Association and Codex Alimentarius - but acceptance by both consumers and regulators is slow.
To date, the EU ‘positive list’ of foods that can be irradiated has only one category: dried aromatic herbs, spices and vegetable seasonings. Surveys conducted by a number of member states revealed that supplement products and ingredients which did not appear on the ‘positive’ list’ had been irradiated.
Many EU members remain opposed to any extension of the list but there is little regulatory harmony between member states. Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the UK allow the irradiation of some other foods in addition to those on the EU ‘positive list’, but Denmark, Germany and Luxembourg are opposed.
The technology has been more widely adopted in the USA, Thailand and France but consumer acceptance is slow. Globally, only about 50 countries have approved the use of irradiation for about 60 food products.

AUSTRALIA is considering banning imports of kava kava (piper methysticum) to stop its over-use in remote aboriginal settlements. Originally introduced into indigenous areas to try to combat rising levels of alcohol abuse, extract of kava is widely used for ceremonial and recreational purposes in Pacific Islands such as Fiji, Vanatu and Tonga, where it induces a feeling of well-being but may also make users comatose. However, health officials have now me concerned that over-use of kava kava is the cause of weight loss, liver damage and psychiatric illness in the aboriginal population.

SAW palmetto, the herb associated with relief for prostate problems, has run foul of the authorities in Denmark. They have withdrawn it from the food supplements market on the grounds that the herb is a “novel food ingredient” – IE a food or food ingredient that was not been used for human consumption in the EU prior to 1997. However, according to data from the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers (EHPM), saw palmetto was on the market in the EU as a food supplement prior to May 1997, and therefore should not be classified as a novel food ingredient. EHPM members have been requested to provide urgent documentary proof to this effect.

A World Trade Organisation Dispute Panel has agreed on a preliminary ruling that EU approval of Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) legislation and its subsequent de facto moratorium was in breach of international trade regulations.

The Panel found that the EU’s de facto ban on GM food imports from 1998 violated trade agreements, and that Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg had no legal grounds to impose their own import bans.

The final ruling, if confirmed, would set an important precedent in situations when EU legislation amounts to a trade barrier. It could, for instance, be relevant to the adoption of future EU legislation on maximum levels for food supplements in relation to the impact on trade from third world countries. If levels are adopted as a result of political agreement between member states as opposed to being based on scientific evidence and result in low levels being set, third world countries with higher levels based on scientific evidence could, under WTO rules, challenge EU legislation.

Health Product Association of South Africa
PO Box 55544 • Northlands • Johannesburg 2116 • South Africa
Tel : +27 11 789 4464 • Fax : +27 11 789 4464

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