Health secretary Andrew Lansley has sidestepped an EU ban on herbal remedies with new legislation
Do you ever pop a St John's wort when you're blue or add a drop of Echinacea to your cuppa to fend off bugs? If so, we've got important news for you. Some herbal medicines, which were meant to be banned in April under EU rules, will still be available to UK consumers thanks to new legislation put into place by Health Secretary Andrew Lansley. The EU directive in April was meant to protect consumers by stating any herbal medicine sold over the counter must have been in use for 30 years in the EU, or 15 years in the EU and 15 elsewhere. Now, practitioners can simply register with the Health Professions Council (HPC) to continue selling their medicine, even if it doesn't meet this 30-year rule or have legitimate scientific evidence supporting its efficacy.
ZEST says: We agree with the motivation behind Lansley's move: UK consumers should have continued access to alternative medicine. Getting a licence for an herbal product is expensive and may be out of reach for the small companies producing some of these medicines. However, this means it's more important than ever to make sure any herbal remedies you take come from reputable sources and have scientific proof to verify their claims. Also, the Health Professions Council (HPC), who will now take on the task of regulating herbal medicine, is an independent watchdog established to protect the public. They currently act as the regulatory body over paramedics, podiatrists and dieticians (to name a few) with their own standards for behaviour and health, which means herbal remedies will still have a governing body to report to. Moreover, we'd like to see more government funding for the testing of alternative medicine. If these remedies have been used to cure ailments for hundreds of years, it may be time to invest some money in scientifically examining how effective they truly are.
Posted: 09/06/2011 at 08:02
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