UK lobby mobilises against EU supplement directive

Related tags European union

Consumers for Health Choice, a natural products lobby group with a
number of high profile supporters, claims the Medicines Control
Agency has deliberately misled ministers about the impact of the EU
herbal products directive.

The proposed European Union directive on vitamin and mineral supplements has been out of the spotlight for a few months after the flurry of activity surrounding its approval by MEPs earlier this year, but for opponents of the legislation it is still very much the focus of attention.

One such opponent is the UK-based Consumers for Health Choice, a lobby group which has fought against the directive since its conception, arguing that it would lead to the withdrawal of a large number of vitamin and mineral supplements which are currently widely available.

But CHC's campaign has stepped up a gear with the issuing of a statement claiming that the Medicines Control Agency, medical advisors to the UK government, have deliberately misled ministers and consumers by stating that just 55 manufacturers and retailers in the UK would be affected by the new regulations.

This, CHC claims, is a gross under-estimation, as some 1,800 health stores and 400 manufacturers are likely to be hit by the EU rules, which would require any herbal product which has been on the market for less than 30 years to undergo stringent safety tests, much the same as those imposed on synthetic drugs.

Sue Croft, the director of Consumers for Health Choice​, said: "The Medicines Control Agency has been misleading ministers and consumers over this issue and seems to be unaccountable for their actions.

"Traditional herbal remedies have been used safely for hundreds of years yet these proposals will ban hundreds of products and destroy the industry in the UK.

"It is outrageous that a government agency can force through plans that will jeopardise consumer health, remove consumer choice and destroy a safe, respected industry without being held to account over its actions."

The UK Department of Health has extended its consultation on the proposal until the end of July, and it will then decide whether to give its approval in the European Council of Ministers.

Despite the overwhelmingly negative reaction to the EU directive, the MCA claimed it had evidence to show that there was considerable support for the directive from within the herbal products industry.

It is true to say that some elements are welcomed - even CHC said it welcomed the efforts to standardise the rules governing the sale of herbal products across the EU if it made it easier for consumers to obtain them - but in general the proposal has not been welcomed, with some opponents going as far as claiming that legislators were influenced by the major drug companies who were keen to 'kill' the natural products sector.

Related topics Regulation & Policy Suppliers

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