This is a brief progress report on the proposed ANH/Benefyt judicial review that aims to facilitate a fairer, less discriminatory regulatory framework for herbal products associated with non-European healthcare systems such as Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

We had hoped to be able to file the case in the High Court in London by 30th April 2011, the day the transition phase of the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD) ended.  However, the scale of the challenge and the need to coordinate activities, not only in the UK but also in other parts of the EU and beyond, has meant that we are delayed.

In agreement with our lawyers at the leading London-based European law chambers, 11KBW, we feel strongly that we must do everything in our capacity to ensure that we are as carefully prepared as possible, particularly as we only get a single opportunity to take a challenge such as this. The effect of full implementation of the THMPD will actually be protracted, given that the Directive itself does not directly ban any product; rather, herbal products are at risk of becoming illegal once Member State competent authorities determine that ones selling as food supplements are illegal unless registered as medicines.

As we have made clear in the past, such as in the joint ANH/Benefyt position paper of October 2010, there are complex reasons why herbal products from non-European traditions have such difficulty accessing the traditional herbal medicines registration scheme offered by the THMPD.  It is highly relevant that there is still not a single product representative of any non-European herbal tradition that has been able to access the scheme.

We ask that you bear with us while we continue our work on the preparation of this pivotal challenge that will likely be seminal to how European authorities will treat herbal products from non-European traditions.  Our work in this area started within months of ANH’s inception in 2002, and we have never been more sure that the route we are taking now, through the courts, gives us the best chance of correcting a regulatory approach that is both unjustified and discriminatory.

We will continue to keep you updated on our progress.

In health, naturally

The ANH Team


ANH Nurture Traditional Medicinal Cultures campaign page