A study has found that herbal medicine sold in Australia has been declining for a third decade, according to the World Health Organization.
The WHO has been warning for years that the quality of herbal medicines sold in the country was being compromised by a lack of regulation, a lack in transparency and a lack on quality control, including quality assurance.
The report, released this week, found that in 2015, the number of registered herbal medicines rose by nearly 100,000, but that the number selling within the country rose by less than 1,000.
The study, which involved tracking herbal products in retail stores across Australia, found the numbers of herbal products sold in stores increased by 5 per cent over the same period.
“We have long been warning that the lack of quality control and transparency in the market was driving the decline in the number and quality of medicines sold,” Dr Stephen Green from the Centre for Medicinal Chemistry at the University of New South Wales told the ABC.
Dr Green said the findings showed that Australia’s herbal medicine market was not only losing market share to the US and other countries, but was also struggling to deliver quality and quantity.
In 2014, the country’s first national study into the health effects of herbal medicine showed that it was not just people with chronic illnesses who were at risk, but also children and the elderly.
Australia’s government is considering measures to increase oversight and increase quality control.
But for many, the government’s response has been a mixed one.
Some patients, like Dr Green, have welcomed the Government’s focus on herbal medicine as a solution, but are worried about the lack a regulator, quality control or transparency.
Other patients, however, have said the Government has not done enough to protect them.
There have been a number of deaths from herbal medicine in Australia, including a woman who died from the fatal effects of botulism in 2014.
However, Dr Green said that as the number in the herbal medicine sector continued to decline, more patients were being prescribed the products than were being tested and properly tested.
This, he said, had contributed to the increase in deaths from botulistic poisoning.
Green said that there was a risk the lack in quality control could be the cause of the increase, with the lack for quality control leading to increased deaths.
“What we have now is a situation where the quality control is not being managed properly,” Dr Green told the news.
He said the Australian Government should look at other ways of protecting people from the dangers of botulinum toxin, such as better education and testing.
Professor Green said there was also concern that herbal medicines could be more dangerous than botulized food.
If the Government wants to make herbal medicine available in Australia as it should, then it needs to make sure there are more quality controls and inspections, he added.