Professor Alan Bensoussan, who recently stepped down as the director of the NICM Health Research Institute which he founded about a decade ago, is well-known for his research and practice of Chinese medicines.
While now semi-retiremed, he serves as an advisor for a number of industry players and is conducting research on how complementary medicines could be used to manage chronic diseases.
“The question for us in the complementary medicines sector is what can we do prior to a condition being so severe that needs long-term drug therapy.
“Are there conditions where we might be able to intervene a little bit earlier with something in the food-drug spectrum that actually offers some protection or delay the aggravation of the patients' chronic conditions?” he said.
He added that new developments in Australia’s regulatory framework would help to drive research in the complementary medicine sector.
The Australian parliament has approved a legislative modification in December 2020 that will protect the IP and research findings of proprietary complementary medicines.
“Companies often say if [the research information is] out in the public domain, we can’t protect the IP, [and so] if we do a clinical trial, somebody will just copy our product and put it on the market the next day.
“The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is the first in the world to have instituted this new approach where they will provide a five-year window of data protection for a company that proves its medicines and its claims…It’s incredibly exciting,” Prof Bensoussan said.
He believes that this will encourage the industry to invest more in research and respond to the demand for evidence-based products.
Aside from research, Prof Bensoussan was also heavily involved in policy work, with experience as the chair of the Advisory Committee for Complementary Medicines of TGA, as well as Australia’s National Medicines Policy Committee.
Listen to find out more about his career and views of the complementary medicine industry.