9 June 2011 UPDATE: Within two weeks of the herbal ban, a lethal bacterium began killing people in Germany, and has spread across Europe. New info indicates the germ is bioengineered with Bubonic Plague DNA. ~Ed.
By Mike Stones
A legal challenge to new EU legislation, implemented on May 1, which could ban thousands of traditional herbal medicines is “imminent,” a spokesperson for the UK-based Alliance for Natural Health told NutraIngredients.
Short shelf life: EU legislation could ban traditional Chinese medicines such as those made from gingko biloba.
After donations of about £100,000 (~$162,000), the alliance is making final preparations to its legal case for a judicial review of the EU’s Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD) at the Royal Courts of Justice in London.
After an initial hearing in London, the case will be referred to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg.
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.
In the UK 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, about 100 herbal products have been registered under the THR scheme, which is run by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The alliance fears the law will have the effect of banning thousands of herbal medicines and drive consumers on line to buy unregulated products.
“The main losers are those products associated with world’s longest, most established and most evolved and holistic systems of healthcare, notably Ayurveda and traditional Chinese medicines,” according to a Robert Verkerk, the alliance’s executive and scientific director. “Less familiar and less globalised traditions such as Tibetan, Korean, southern African and Amazonian traditions also fall victim.”
Only about 200 herbal products are thought to qualify for use under the new legislation. Most are products derived from alcoholic extracts of single herbs that are common to the European phyto-pharmaceutical tradition, claims the alliance.
Despite the implementation of the legislation on May 1, existing herbal medicines stocked before April 30 this year can still be sold until the expiry date on the label. That may extend their shelf life for up to three years.
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