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EU: Herbal Ban

The EU Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD)

Did you know most of our herbal remedies were banned by the EU from April 30th 2011?

We have done our best to object to this directive. Sadly, the only UK Political Party who supported our contention that it was unfair and disproportionate the was the UK Independence Party (UKIP). We are particularly grateful to Gerard Batten, UKIP MEP for London for his genuine support and hard work in standing up for the rights of the consumer *. Unfortunately the directive is now law, and we have to do our best in the face of what we regard as a very unfair situation.

* Mr Batten has asked us to publish the following statement which we present here

My UKIP colleagues and I were pleased to help in trying to stop this legislation. Like so much legislation that comes from the EU it is unnecessary, incompetent, and benefits big business at the expense of small and medium sized businesses. It also limits the choice of the consumer for no good reason, and destroys jobs. Unfortunately we were unable to prevent it but we will continue to oppose all that is against the interests of the British people. The only solution to this never ending problem is for Britain to leave the European Union and to recover our status as a free, independent and democratic nation. If you would like to know about this please see my website at www.gerardbattenmep.co.uk and the UKIP main website at www.ukip.org

FAQ's

1) Can I sign a petition to register my objection?

There were before the directive became law, but as far as we know, there are no current petitions to enable you to object to this nonsense. However the Alliance for Natural Health are mounting a brave legal challenge to what we nickname as The Protection of Vested Interests directive which you can read about here and here.

2) I take such and such a herbal product from The Finchley Clinic and its' vital to me. Will I still be able to get it?

We will not break the law. However we have reformulated the products where it was possible to bring you the best products legally available.

3) My MP wrote back to tell me not to worry as the UK government has come to a compromise with the EU over this. Is this true?

No. This at best an extremely misleading half truth. This is the real situation:-

In March 2011, Andrew Lansley, the Secretary of State for Health, made an announcement that registered herbalists will be able to continue to practice and prescribe herbal remedies privately through statutory regulation to be introduced by 2012. This decision simply allows the continuation of the herbalists' exemption which has existed since 1968 that allows herbalists to prescribe unlicensed medicines to patients following one-to-one consultations. It is not a defiance of of the EU.

But from May 1st 2011, manufactured herbal medicines sold online and in health food shops,  will still not be able to be legally sold unless they are registered under the EU's Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive.  That means if you're willing to fork out maybe  50 to 100 quid to see a herbalist, they will be able to prescribe you herbs. That's if the herbs are still in sufficient demand to continue to be produced, or are available economically,  after the ban on general sale comes in, which is pretty doubtful.

So in conclusion:-

  • The 'compromise' is a green light to allow those that can afford it to be able to consult a practitioner - if they can find one -  to buy herbs.
  • We will let you decide whether you think this is genuine protection of consumer rights
STOP PRESS: MAY 2013

Now we hear that the government is planning a U-turn even on this rather feeble promise. Prompted by the European Union (EU), the government may also repeal the ‘herbalist’s exemption’ that has allowed herbalists, since 1968, to prescribe individualised herbal medicines according to their patients’ needs.

Up to 8 million people in the UK rely on, use regularly or have used the services of herbal medicine practitioners.

Does David Cameron want to be remembered as the Prime Minister responsible for depriving people of life-saving herbal medicines?

 

4) The industry supports this regulation

 

This is at best an exaggeration. Yes, it is true that some practitioner organisations supported it. This is because they want to prevent you from being able to buy herbs without paying a consultation fee to their practitioners, so that they can make more money. One or two suppliers also now support it. This is where they have spent money getting licenses, and so now want to get the competition out of the way. In our opinion neither of these positions are terribly honourable. But in general, the majority of the industry never supported it.

5) The government has done this because the public supports regulation

This absurd claim stems entirely from a government IPSOS / MORI poll (of which two thirds of the respondents stated they had never even used herbal remedies! ) which posed this question:

“It is important that herbal medicines are regulated” (agree or disagree). 

Now, we do not beleive this proves very much since almost anyone would reply “agree” to a question phrased in this way. What if the question had been:

“There is no need to regulate herbal medicines”  (agree or disagree). 

or more accurately “Its is important that herbal medicines should be subject to disproportionate regulation?”   (agree or disagree).

or "Do your support regulations which will result in a ban of many herbal remedies, and double the price of the rest?"

or "Do you think that that herbal remedies should on the whole only be able to be  manufactured by pharmaceutical companies, with a lot of artificial pharmaceutical chemicals added to them?"

6) I got a letter from my MP / MEP assuring me that the purpose of THMPD is not to restrict my freedom of choice but to ensure safety and quality control

Your MP or MEP may well genuinely believe this, if the wool has been skillfully pulled over his or her eyes by the vested interests that campaigned for this rubbish, and if he or she has not had time to venture into this properly. In practise, the products that have been approved are not for the most part what most reasonable people would regard as ‘true’ herbal products.  They are alcohol or acetone (nail-polish remover) extracts, stabilised in a pharmaceutical base that can include artificial polymers and many other additives.  Very few contain whole-herb material and most herbalists would not regard these products as authentic to long-standing traditions of herbalism. We anticipate that our customers would not want to spend their hard-earned money on "herbal" products which we regard as total rubbish. We will not be selling them.

Related articles:

EU Health Claims Regulation
EU Vitamins and Minerals to be banned?