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RPS speaks out on herbal products ahead of legislative changes (revised)

By News team

Pharmacists should ensure that patients understand that certain herbal products are not tested for effectiveness in the same way as conventional medicines are, Royal Pharmaceutical Society chief scientific adviser Jayne Lawrence has said.

On 1 May 2011, a new EU Directive on traditional herbal medicinal products (PDF 100K) comes into force. It will require traditional herbal remedies that make claims for their use to be registered as a conventional medicine or registered under the traditional herbal registration (THR) scheme. Under the THR scheme, quality and safety must be demonstrated, but not efficacy.

Professor Lawrence said: “Without information about effectiveness, it is difficult for people to make an informed choice when purchasing these products.

“We would always advise the public to consult pharmacists when considering herbal products — particularly if they are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking conventional medicines, which can sometimes interact with herbal products.”

The RPS will be producing a quick reference guide on the directive for pharmacists, which it expects to publish when the new directive comes into force.

The herbal directive was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council on 31 March 2004. It gave manufacturers a transitional period of seven years to register traditional herbal medicinal products that were already on the market, which ends on 30 April 2011.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal URI: 11068667

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