AHPA's McGuffin Leads U.S. Delegation to ISO Meeting on TCM

The first Plenary Meeting of a newly formed Technical Committee, provisionally titled Traditional Chinese Medicine when it was formed last year by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), met over the last two days in Beijing, China. Representatives from 15 countries were in attendance for this preliminary meeting. Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), served as the U.S. Head of Delegation, which included acupuncture and Oriental medicine practitioners and educators and suppliers and marketers of Chinese herbal products.

The formation of this technical committee (TC 249) came about as a result of a request in 2009 by the Standardization Administration of China (SAC) for ISO to address a scope described as “standardization in the field of TCM, in terms of basis, application, administration and the related technical fields, such as terminology, diagnosis and treatment methods, manipulation standards, training standards, quality standards of appliance and equipment, and production and usage standards of Chinese herbal medicines and their test methods, etc.” The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is the U.S. member body to ISO, and NSF International, an ANSI member, serves as the U.S. Technical Advisory Group (TAG) Administrator for TC 249. McGuffin also serves as the interim chair of this ANSI-accredited U.S. TAG.

One of the primary issues before the Beijing meeting was to determine the TC’s final title. While SAC proposed the provisional title of Traditional Chinese Medicine, there was extensive discussion on other ideas, such as TCM-Based Medicine or simply Traditional Medicine, and the delegations resolved to readdress this decision after consulting with their domestic organizations.

The other primary issue before the meeting was clarification of the TC’s scope. Consensus was obtained that there should be a high priority on standards for quality and safety of medical devices such as acupuncture equipment, and of natural materials such as herbal ingredients. The delegates also agreed that the scope should include informatics, and that close cooperation should be established with other organizations engaged in efforts to standardize terminology and nomenclature. Issues such as practitioner education, training and practice and research methodologies were identified as lower priorities subject to later consideration.

“The U.S. delegation presented a consistent message of the need to respect the diverse history of this traditional medicine and to build on the many resources that already exist in this field,” commented McGuffin. “The ANSI-accredited U.S. TAG will continue its active involvement as this process unfolds,” he added.

The American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) is the national trade association and voice of the herbal products industry. AHPA is comprised of domestic and foreign companies doing business as growers, processors, manufacturers and marketers of herbs and herbal products, including foods, dietary supplements, cosmetics, and nonprescription drugs. Founded in 1982, AHPA’s mission is to promote the responsible commerce of herbal products. Website: www.ahpa.org.

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