Following the statement this week that statutory regulation has been proposed as the way forward for the herbal profession, professionals, manufacturers and the
public are still confused as to the final outcome of the government proposals, and whether or not herbal medicines will still be available after full implementation of
the THMPD. Despite statements to the contrary by the EHTPA and other pro regulatory advocates, the SR of practitioners and implementation of the THMPD
are completely separate issues.
The following can be read in the EU document 'Communication from the Commission to the Council and the European Parliament', dated Sept 2008:
"....it should be emphasised that Community legislation on medicinal products, in particular directive 2001/83/EC laying down the procedures for
placing products on the market, follows a product-specific approach and does not attempt to provide a framework for the regulation of traditions of
Save Our Herbs has already highlighted this fact on our website, and despite the government recommending proposals for the SR of herbalists, full
implementation of the THMPD is set to go ahead on the 30th April 2011. Consequently, thousands of manufactured herbal products which do not have the
required marketing authorisation (MA) or traditional herbal registration (THR) will no longer be available. Many small manufacturers who have not been able to
pay for the product licenses will go out of business and the risk of such products being available on the black market, especially through unscrupulous internet
suppliers, is set to dramatically increase. SR of practitioners will not bring these products back onto the market - the manufacturers do not have the money to pay
for the licenses (often in excess of £80,000 for each product) which the MHRA are requesting, thus conforming with a ridiculous directive forced upon us by
The government is also linking the THMPD with SR and is using the section whereby a derogation permitting authorised healthcare professionals to supply
"special" unlicensed medicines to patients , as the main reason for regulating herbal practitioners.
This is confirmed in the following statement by Andrew Lansley - "the practise of acupuncture is not affected by the EU Directive and therefore
compliance is not required." ie acupuncturists will not be regulated as they fall outside the scope of the directive.
However, according to the directive,(as stated above) then so do herbalists. ie the directive is solely concerned with the marketing of products, not the regulation
We would again like to point out the majority of herbal practitioners prepare their own medicines and it is not beyond the ability of those who currently do not, to
incorporate this into their practices and thus avoid the need to rely on such "special" preparations.
Save our Herbs are still advocating that statutory regulation should not go ahead and that the THMPD should be scrapped . Both will be bring the demise of our
Traditional Herbal Medicine and freedom of choice for practitioners and the public. Despite the EHTPA and associated groups advocating in their campaign that
Herbal Medicine is not safe, herbal medicine has been shown to have an excellent safety record, with 99% of all adverse drug reactions coming from
pharmaceuticals. How interesting to note that the National Institute of Medical Herbalists, from which the EHTPA evolved, used to have the logo "Herbal
Medicine Is Safe Medicine" so what has happened in order to reverse this statement, of which we were all proud? Could it be the desire to have the profession
statutory regulated so only "professional practitioners" would be capable of taking on the responsibility that we and our forefathers took as a matter of course?
What too has happened to the Conservative government which was elected to power with the message for personal responsibility, destruction of Nanny State
mentality, and the Big Society? Implemetation of statutory regulation and the THMPD goes completely against these philosophies, with - yet again - the State
enforcing its will on the people of this country.
Yes of course everyone wants safety for the public and herbal medicine is very safe. (Any problems that have arisen have been mainly due to poor policing by the
Trading Standards Office, and non adherence to current/previous laws). However, we do not want to be told what medicines we are and aren't allowed to use,
or that the practitioner we have seen for years we will no.longer be able to visit because they refuse to sign up to a meaningless register. We want personal
responsibility. Give people responsibility and they will use it wisely. Give freedom of choice to choose their own form of healthcare or we will all end up with a
worse Nanny State than under the Labour Party. The UK is in a very difficult recession. Jobs within the herbal community and the small manufacturers of herbal
products need to be supported, not got rid of. Directives from Europe should be implemented wisely or scrapped for the benefit of those within the UK.
Common sense from government and all of us must prevail in order to move forward into the 21st Century. We urge the government to not implement SR and to
scrap the THMPD.
We would also like to point out that from information currently available to us, that the discussions regarding whether or not to implement statutory regulation was
a close call. The Analysis report on the Consultation On Statutory Regulation of Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine and Traditional Chinese Medicine and Other
Traditional Medicine Systems Practised in the UK certainly concluded "It is now clear that this is a complex area and that opinions vary widely as to
whether some form of regulation is needed."
We would like to print a statement made by Michael Mcintyre, Chair of the EHTPA, who, after 15 years of trying to pursue statutory regulation for the herbal
profession, sounds as if his debating skills were not a foregone conclusion and the case for not progressing SR was a close shave. He therefore employed the
skills of a parliamentary lobbyist company company to deliver the goods at a no doubt considerable expense. "On behalf of our thousands of members, I
cannot thank or praise you enough for the vital support and advice you gave to us when it really mattered. Your intimate knowledge and experience of
the health sector, combined with your understanding of both the formal decision-making processes and informal political dynamics in Whitehall,
Westminster and the devolved administrations was exactly what we needed. It is no exaggeration to say that I truly believe you made a significant
difference between ultimate success and failure in the final decision. I would have no hesitation whatsoever in recommending your services to any
organisation in the health world needing calm, professional and deeply experienced advice or advocacy." As a point of correction, we would like to
mention that the EHTPA does not have thousands of members. The individual members of each professional association affiliated to the EHTPA are not members
of the EHTPA and have no voting rights or say in how the company is run, but are expected to pay funds towards the running of the company. This is one of the
many reasons why herbalists have left their professional associations and become independent.
Save Our Herbs wants to thank everyone who has supported our campaign and also signed our petition. We will continue to oppose the government proposals
for SR and want to reverse implementation of the THMPD so common sense returns to our work of safe and effective herbal medicine. Since the election of the
Conservative government, many of us have written letters, lobbied MP's, had nervous breakdowns but still kept going to support our belief in our Tradition, and
belief in our patients and the public who want both herbalists and herbs to continue being available to all - not just statutory regulated practitioners. Please
continue to write to your MP's, David Cameron and - if you are in Europe (special thanks to those of you who support us), please join with us to ensure access
to your own herbs and write to your relevant ministers as well as David Cameron. It isn't too late and discussions will be ongoing throughout 2011 until a final
decision is made. Here in the UK a decision to sell off our forests has been abandoned by government, helped considerably by the public causing an outcry. The
Alliance for Natural Health is currently running a campaign to legally challenge implementation of the THMPD so please support their work too.
PLEASE CONTINUE TO HELP US SAVE OUR HERBS AND OUR HERBALISTS
Department of Health announcement about the regulation of herbal practitioners - here
Analysis report on the 2009 consultation on the statutory regulation of practitioners of acupuncture, herbal medicine, traditional Chinese medicine and other
traditional medicine systems practised in the UK - here
Alliance for Natural Health - ANH-Intl Press Release: EU herb directive keeps consumers in the dark -here
Contact David Cameron at 10 Downing Street - e-mail here
Herbal Regulations for Practitioners and Manufacturers in a State of Disarray
The Campaignfor the Protection of Herbal Medicine