Special Interest Groups - Herbal and Traditional medicines Group

Herbal and Traditional medicines Group

The ISoP Special Interest Group on Herbal and Traditional Medicines: finding solutions and moving issues forward

There is international recognition of the need to improve pharmacovigilance for herbal and traditional (indigenous) medicines and other natural health products, not least because of the high prevalence of use of these medicines by patients and the unique challenges that these products raise. This topic has featured at ISoP annual conferences for many years, and attracts substantial interest worldwide.
Against this background, in 2016, the new ISoP Executive Committee encouraged the creation and development of a new SIG in ISoP dedicated to exploring issues relating to the safety and pharmacovigilance of herbal and traditional medicines: the ISoP Herbal and Traditional Medicines (H&TM) SIG. It is planned to formally launch the SIG at the 17th annual meeting of ISoP in Liverpool in October 2017.
The members of this group have a specific interest in herbal and traditional medicines in their broadest sense, including marketed commercial herbal medicinal products, as well as all types of traditional herbal medicines, and other natural products used in healthcare.

 Aims and objectives

The overall aims of the H&TM SIG are to provide a focal point for ISoP members interested in herbal and traditional medicines to share and provide information on relevant issues and developments, and to support and promote progress in the pharmacovigilance for herbal and traditional medicines and other natural health products.
The key objectives are:
– To discuss issues in herbal and traditional medicines’ safety and pharmacovigilance and work collaboratively towards finding solutions;
– To raise awareness of issues in herbal and traditional medicines’ safety and pharmacovigilance among relevant organisations, including those representing patient groups, healthcare providers, medicines information providers, media and others;
– To serve as a conduit for ISoP members wishing to initiate or be involved with collaborative research or other projects of relevance to the herbal and traditional medicines area.

Issues in pharmacovigilance for Herbal and Traditional Medicines

There are numerous issues relating to herbal and traditional medicines on which those of us expert in this area believe action is needed. Part of the work of the Herbal and Traditional Medicines SIG will be to identify and collate the issues, develop an ‘issues’ agenda, and determine what action is needed. For example, there are difficulties in coding and classifying herbal and traditional medicines and other natural health products and potential to improve and standardise how this is done internationally. Members are invited to raise and discuss other issues relating to herbal and traditional medicines they feel are of importance.
Where other international organisations and learned societies are working on relevant issues, the ISoP Herbal and Traditional Medicines SIG will aim to liaise and work collaboratively. Likewise, the ISoP Herbal and Traditional Medicines SIG is committed to creating productive relationships with other ISoP special interest groups and chapters.

Information sharing and networking

The group aims to share interesting news items, research findings, regulatory actions and other information on herbal-medicines issues that have been identified worldwide. The purpose of this activity is to share information, stimulate debate, and possibly lead to the development of new projects.

Collaborative projects

Some members of the group are involved with research and other projects on herbal medicines and other natural health products. This may present opportunities for other group members to work on these too. There may also be the opportunity to work with other ISoP SIGs, such as the Women’s Medicines SIG, on issues of mutual interest and importance (see below).
If you have any such projects for which you are seeking collaborators or other involvement, please contact the Herbal and Traditional Medicines SIG chair, Associate Professor Jo Barnes, by email at: j.barnes@auckland.ac.nz

Membership of the ISoP Herbal and Traditional Medicines SIG

Any member of ISoP who has an interest in herbal and traditional medicines is very welcome to join our group. We hope the group will attract members from several different continents, and that there will be strong representation from countries in which herbal and traditional medicines are an important part of healthcare, either locally for individuals, or as part of an organised health system.
It isn’t necessary to have particular expertise or experience in herbal and traditional medicines to join, just a healthy interest in and enthusiasm for the topic. That said, we welcome members with expertise in the chemistry, clinical pharmacology, manufacture, regulation, and practice of herbal medicine, including in relation to the many different traditional medicine systems, such as Ayurvedic medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and others. We also welcome members who have expertise in other areas of pharmacovigilance, including specific methods, or therapeutic areas, and who are interested in exploring their interface with herbal medicines.

If you would like to join the ISoP Herbal and Traditional Medicines Group please contact Associate Professor Jo Barnes by e-mail at: administration@isoponline.org