Importing or exporting complementary medicines
Po Chai pills contain Saussurea costus
The demand for animal and plant derivatives for use as health supplements in complementary medicines (also known as traditional or alternative medicines) is the cause of some species becoming threatened. If threatened species continue to be used in complementary medicines, they may become extinct.
Some threatened species used in complementary medicines include musk deer, marine turtles, leopard, aucklandia (Saussurea costus found in Po Chai pills) and some bear species.
Alternatives to traditional ingredients
Using products derived from synthetic alternatives and some common species will help save CITES listed species. Alternatives are available for many traditional ingredients. See the following publication for details:
Exporting and importing
Before exporting or importing any complementary medicine product, check the ingredients list carefully. This includes bringing products into or out of Australia for personal use.
If ingredients are listed on CITES Appendix I, you will not be allowed to import or export the product.
If ingredients are listed on CITES Appendix II, you will to need an import permit, unless the product is for personal use and will be carried as personal effects when you travel. You will need an export permit from the exporting country.
If the ingredients are listed on CITES Appendix II and are from a specimen that is specifically listed as requiring an import permit, you will need an import permit and a valid export permit from the exporting country (even if you are carrying the products as personal effects).
All products claiming on their packaging or labelling (in pictures or words) to contain material from CITES-listed species such as deer, tiger or rhinoceros are treated as if they do contain that ingredient and so will be seized.
Customs and Quarantine and the Therapeutic Goods Administration
Exports and imports of wildlife and wildlife products may also be subject to regulation under the Customs Act 1901 (administered by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service ), the Quarantine Act 1908 (administered by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service ) and the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (administered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration ).
Endangered Species Certification Scheme
In April 2007, the Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (the department) entered into a funding agreement with the Australian Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine Association Ltd (AACMA) to establish and administer a collaborative certification scheme for professionals and traders involved in the research, recommendation, prescription, supply, export or import of complementary medicines.
The Endangered Species Certification Scheme (ESCS) was launched in May 2008 by the then Environment Minister. The scheme enables traditional medicine professionals to obtain official acknowledgement that the wildlife products they use or sell do not contain ingredients from threatened species. The aims of the scheme are to:
- raise the level of awareness, education and compliance with the legal requirements associated with international wildlife trade
- recognise professionals and traders involved in the ethical research, recommendation, prescription, supply, export or import of traditional Chinese medicines
- provide a credible mechanism to acknowledge and support professionals and traders to publicly promote that they do not use or support the use of Chinese medicines containing illegally traded wildlife ingredients.
Applicants to the scheme undergo a short quiz before being granted free membership. Once a part of the scheme, members are issued with ESCS awards and advertising materials for display in their businesses.
Awareness and membership in the scheme is steadily increasing as members are realising the commercial benefits of declaring that they are wildlife aware. More details of the scheme can be obtained from the AACMA website .
- Pills, plants and animals - A guide to complementary medicines trade and conservation
- The regulation of complementary medicines
- How to export or import hoodia products
- Seized items and caution notices
Export and import guides
- How to export and import CITES plants and animals
- CITES specimens as personal effects
- Butterfly specimens
- Complementary medicines
- Elephant products
- Hunting trophies
- Online (Internet) shopping