Interrogating the Framework for the Regulation of Complementary Medicines in South Africa
Background Research and development of traditional medicines is one of the areas identified in South Africa’s National Drug Policy (NDP). Worldwide, the safety, quality, efficacy, availability, and regulation of traditional, complementary, and alternative medicines (T/CAMS) are debated by policy makers, healthcare professionals, and the public. In 2013, regulations for the registration of Complementary Medicines (CM) sold in South Africa were gazetted by the South African Minister of Health. 194Guidelines and associated documentation for prospective and retrospective product registration have now been finalised to facilitate the process. However, there appears to be continued work needed with respect to achieving exact and appropriate definitions of what constitute complementary medicines, including the place of African Traditional Medicines (ATM), the disciplines currently included (and excluded), and the implementation plan by the Medicines Control Council (MCC) (now known as the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority [SAHPRA]). The framework has been hailed by many as a progressive step which will bring rationality to an industry that has been perceived as dangerously unregulated, to the detriment of public health.
Relevance This chapter provides insight into the evolution of the complementary medicine regulatory framework in South Africa and highlights important issues around Quality, Safety, and Efficacy (QSE) requirements of the registration regime currently unfolding. Overall, this chapter creates awareness among the public, researchers, policy makers, and industry about the scientific approach to medicine regulation and the potential opportunities and challenges that lie ahead. It also identifies gaps which need to be addressed.