The ASEAN Alliance of Health Supplement Associations (AAHSA) and the International Alliance of Dietary/Food Supplement Associations (IADSA) have jointly issued an ASEAN TMHS (Traditional Medicines and Health Supplements) Scorecard, which is the first of its kind developed by an industry in the region. The Scorecard provides a strategic assessment of the ongoing standards harmonization in the sector with special focus on health supplements. “The Scorecard serves to evaluate the developments and to identify the implementation gaps and challenges, which are faced by our industry while we endeavor to support the harmonization process in ASEAN" said Daniel Quek, chairman of AAHSA.
The Scorecard is a response to the requests of the ASEAN Heads of Government and ASEAN Economic Ministers for the respective industries to provide their active feedback and perspectives on the ongoing integration and harmonization of their sector in ASEAN as part of the building of the Single Market under the ASEAN Economic Community by 2015.
The Scorecard affirms the significant progress ASEAN has achieved in the harmonization with nine out of the 14 standards and technical requirements being completed since 2004 in the areas of labeling, composition, quality, safety, and product placement. The Scorecard also shows that the TMHS harmonization is reaching the goal of building the ASEAN Single Market in this sector as most of the measures identified for harmonization have met the 50 percent threshold for completion with a few remaining to be completed by the end of 2015. The majority of the companies involved in the health supplements industry, including the small and medium enterprises will eventually be able to achieve the harmonized standards and technical requirements.
The scorecard indicates that ASEAN would need to work swiftly to complete the remaining measures. A number of measures remain in progress or on hold due to the lack of consensus on how to tackle them. The health supplement sector feels strongly that any exceptions from the ASEAN requirements, such as on labeling, will impede the free flow of health supplement products across the region, and believes ways should be found to remove these exceptions.
The healthcare sector is one of the Priority Integration Sectors of ASEAN for economic integration. The ongoing harmonization of the healthcare sector is expected to be of great benefit for regional economic development. The market for health supplements is currently estimated at USD 4.8 billion and is expected to grow further with the rising middle-income population and increasing disposable incomes. Harmonization will assist in the free flow of health supplement products, will provide more employment opportunities, and will promote health conscious lifestyles for the people of ASEAN. AAHSA and IADSA will continue to work with ASEAN to achieve its agenda in this sector. “Both AAHSA and IADSA are committed to the AEC and to working with ASEAN to finalize and implement the regulatory framework and technical requirements”, said Ric Hobby, vice chairman of IADSA.
The Scorecard has been disseminated to the ASEAN Economic Ministers and the senior officials of ASEAN as well as the ASEAN Secretary-General for their further actions. The second Scorecard will be issued by the end of 2014.
AAHSA was created in 2006 to work with the regulatory bodies of ASEAN to achieve harmonization in health supplements across the region by 2015. IADSA was founded in 1998 to address the globalization of food supplement markets and increasing regulatory challenges and supports the work of AAHSA.