Chinese investors could fund complementary medicine research

Australian advocates of alternative treatments lobby Canberra for more state funding for research

September 18, 2015
medicine, complementary, nettle,
Many academics have branded traditional Chinese medicine as "quackery"

Chinese investors could step in to fund a complementary medicine institute based at the University of Western Sydney that claims it is stricken by a lack of government money.

The director of the National Institute of Complementary Medicine said that on a recent trip to China he had found there was “enormous interest” among investors in funding research into Chinese medicine in Australia.

“There’s so much opportunity here in the complementary medicine space,’’ Alan Bensoussan told the Australian.

Funding for research into complementary medicine has been controversial in Europe and North America due to criticism from scientists that it lacks an evidential basis.

But in China, traditional medicine is widely used and accepted alongside more scientifically rigorous treatments.

Professor Bensoussan said that the Institute's annual research budget of A$4 million, which comes largely from industry and philanthropic donations, was a “ridiculously small amount”.

In Australia, 0.2 per cent of the National Health and Medical Research Council’s annual A$750 million is put towards complementary and alternative medicine. But the Australian reported that a number of advocates for complementary medicine were now calling on the government to boost state funding for the controversial research.

In 2014 a campaigner for ethical medical advertising resigned in protest from La Trobe University in Melbourne after the institute struck a multi-million dollar agreement to test the products of a major seller of complementary medicine.

Ken Harvey, who was an adjunct associate professor in La Trobe’s School of Public Health, claimed that the tie-up with the firm Swisse could damage the university’s reputation and cause a “fundamental conflict of interest”.

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