European Traditional Medicines Directive

Health written question – answered on 26th March 2002.

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Photo of David Tredinnick David Tredinnick Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Select Committee), Chair, Statutory Instruments (Joint Committee)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what categories of products that are currently on sale in the UK will be left outside of the scope of the proposed European directive on traditional medicines; and if he will make a statement.

Photo of Hazel Blears Hazel Blears Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department of Health)

There are many categories of products currently on sale in the UK which the European Commission's proposals for a Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products are not intended to cover. However, specifically in relation to products which are currently sold legally as unlicensed herbal remedies under Section 12(2) of the Medicines Act, 1968, there are a number of reasons why a proportion of existing products might not satisfy the terms of the proposed Directive. The most likely reasons might be: failure to meet safety or quality standards, or failure to demonstrate that the remedy or corresponding products (that is, comparable herbal medicines) had traditional use. In many such cases in should be possible for companies to make changes—for example improving quality standards or making adjustments to the ingredients or strength of specific products—in order to comply with the terms of the Directive.

Subject to a successful outcome to European negotiations, the introduction of a systematic regulatory framework for traditional herbal medicines should result in improved public health protection, enhanced public confidence in herbal medicine and the continuing availability of a very wide range of remedies.

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