Blackmores has given Sydney University $1.3 million to research herbal medicines

Blackmores chairman Marcus Blackmore, with Professor Bruce Robinson, dean of the Sydney Medical School at the University of Sydney. Source: Blackmores.

Herbal remedy and vitamin company Blackmores has donated $1.3 million to Sydney University’s school of Medicine to establish a new faculty researching complementary medicine.

Maurice Blackmore chair of Integrative Medicine, named after the company’s founder, will offer scholarships and research funding to investigate the efficacy of complementary medicines and how they interact with conventional medicines.

Professor Bruce Robinson, dean of the Sydney Medical School, said that donation will result in five years of research.

“The Chair will undertake high quality, basic and clinical research into complementary and integrative medicines, and look to develop education programs which mean young doctors will graduate knowing what complementary medicines can and can’t achieve, and how they interact with other treatments,” he said.

“With this support, we will be able to develop data and guidelines for consumers and healthcare professionals based on solid evidence.”

While Southern Cross University in northern NSW launched a School of Natural and Complementary Medicine at Southern Cross University nearly 20 years ago, it’s the first time herbal medicines have been embraced by a major university and within its medical school.

Professor Robinson, a practicing clinician, approached Blackmores with the idea, hoping to give students a better understanding of the popularity of complementary medicines and how they interact with medicine prescribed by GPs.

The $1.3 million donation comes via the Blackmores Institute, which conducts its own research into alternative medicines.

Professor Robinson rebuffed claims that the donation would influence the research conducted saying “Blackmores Institute is an appropriate supporter of this chair just as BlueScope steel would be in supporting the Faculty of Engineering.”

He said the research will address ongoing criticism by some medical professionals about the lack of scientific evidence for alternative therapies.

“I really can’t countenance standing by on the sidelines being critical without rolling up my sleeves and getting in and gathering the evidence that is so sorely needed,” he said.

Blackmores chairman Marcus Blackmore said he hoped the donation would contribute towards a holistic approach in medical practice that combines modern western medicine with established and proven practices in the area of integrative medicine.

“Integrative medicine with its focus on prevention and well-being holds serious promise as a solution to the ever increasing cost of healthcare in our community,” he said.

Top of the list is investigating a Tibetan mushroom which is claimed to reduce the pain and inflammation from osteoarthritis.

Blackmores has been enjoying boom times in the past 12 months, with its share price doubling this year to around $70, with sales up by almost a third and NPAT up 77% in the first three quarters of this financial year.

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