27th June 2011

Source: Mike Stones, Nutraingredients, Europe

The Alliance for Natural Health International has slammed the European Commission’s Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive as “a protectionist tool.”


In an open letter to European commissioner John Dalli, Robert Verkerk, the alliance’s founder and scientific director wrote: “It seems that the criticism you now face in some quarters is down to the creation by the EU of what is effectively a protectionist tool; one which favours certain products of the European phytopharmaceutical system and discriminates against those of non-European traditional systems of medicine.”

Verkerk letter follows a forum in the European Parliament on 21 June to consider the challenges posed by the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD Directive 2004/24/EC) to traditional systems of medicine; particularly those of non-European origin.

Herbal practitioner

The new legislation requires that traditional herbal medicinal products, many of which have been used in Europe for decades, must be licensed or prescribed by a registered herbal practitioner in order to comply with a directive passed in 2004 and implement on May 1 2004.

In the UK, for example, over-the-counter herbal medicine products require either a Traditional Herbal Medicines Registration (THR) or a full marketing authorisation. To be eligible for a licence, products must have been on the market for 30 years, including 15 within the EU.

So far, only about 100 herbal products have been registered under the THR scheme, which is run by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

But in a letter to Giles Chichester MEP on 13 April 2011, Dalli said that there were no additional barriers to the registration of Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) compared with products from other European traditions.

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