May 2, 2011
Standards for Traditional Chinese Medicine Discussed at ISO Meeting; McGuffin Heads U.S. Delegation
The second plenary meeting of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) Technical Committee (TC) 249 on traditional Chinese medicine met in The Hague, Switzerland, on May 2-4. Representatives from 14 countries were in attendance, and Michael McGuffin, president of the American Herbal Products Association (AHPA), served as the U.S. Head of Delegation. (See the AHPA Update of June 10, 2010, for more information on the formation of the ISO Technical Committee.)
An initial focus of the meeting was on structural issues. Consideration was therefore given to the formation of several working groups that will be made up of experts in key areas of interest that fall under the TC 249 scope of work. Over the course of the meeting, the committee resolved to establish working groups on raw materials, manufactured products, medical equipment, and informatics.
Several proposals for specific areas for standardization were also considered, including projects on ginseng seeds and seedlings, on acupuncture needles, and on a coding system for herbal ingredients, among others. Additional ideas for specific areas of activity will continue to be identified, and any of the members of or liaisons to the TC may offer proposals for consideration.
One issue that is still unresolved is the formal title of the TC. This was provisionally established as “Traditional Chinese Medicine” when the TC was formed in 2009. There has been an ongoing discussion as to whether this term accurately reflects the committee’s scope, given the fact that this form of medicine originated in China but has been modified and influenced by other countries, especially other Asian countries, including Japan and Korea. At this point in time the title is still considered to be provisional.