UK herbals reform gets backing from industry

Related tags Herbalism Alternative medicine

Plans to reform unlicensed herbal remedies made up for individual
patients in the UK have received widespread support from industry.

A summary of the responses to the government's consultation paper published yesterday show that the regulation was largely backed by organizations such as the European Herbal Practitioners Assocation and the Herbal Forum as well as the National Institute of Medical Herbalists.

The changes are designed to set standards of training and competence for the UK's 4,000 herbal medicine practitioners and acupuncturists.

The UK has for many years exempted herbal medicines from a marketing authorisation if they are not produced industrially but made up following a one-to-one consultation by a herbalist. The majority of herbals currently available on the market are in fact unlicensed.

But government fears that safety risks to the public from this category of products is likely to grow with increasing use of herbal and alternative medicine.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) also predicts that the introduction of the EU Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products, and other comparable measures in countries such as Canada and Australia, could see those wishing to get rid of low grade unregulated products and ingredients targeting areas of ineffective regulation to off-load their stocks.

A summary to responses on the consultation to proposed changes, opened in March, was published by the MHRA​ yesterday. It received 77 responses from herbal practitioners, manufacturers of ingredients and other areas of the complementary medicine industry.

It said there was extensive support for introducing better regulation of quality standards for remedies, and there was wide agreement that partially processed ingredients should comply with GMP.

The use of potent herbs in section 12 (1) remedies should be restricted to registered herbalists, agreed most respondants, but there was no clear consensus on whether this regime should be extended to permit non-herbal ingredients.

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