Threat to Herbalist Professionals
The European Traditional Herbal Medicine Directive will be fully implemented in April 2011. From this time it will only be possible to buy medicinal herbs that are prepackaged, limiting the sale of some herbal products.
It is forseen that this will also limit the use of herbs by herbal practitioners. Herbalists often have herbal preparations prepared specifically for each patient they see by others (called third-party medicines), and after April 2011 it appears that they will no longer be able to do this.
The MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) has proposed that third-party medicines supplied on request of statutorily regulated practitioners for individual patients can continue under MHRA licence via Section 5.1 of the main European Medicines Act 2001/83/EC. The key point here is that this facility is only available to statutory regulated health professionals, and herbal practitioners are not statutory regulated. Herbal practitioners therefore need to secure ‘authorized health care professional’ status through statutory regulation, so they can legally commission herbal medicines from manufacturers for supply to their patients.
This means that after this time many herbal medicines will no longer be available to patients of herbalists. Herbal preparations which have been prepared by someone other than the herbalist will no longer be available, severely limiting the number of herbs available to herbalists and their patients.
Herbalists have been campaigning for regulation for a number of years, partly to safeguard the public from unqualified herbalists, but this issue has now become important due to the changes in the law in 2011.
There is a national petition organised by the European Herbal and Traditional Medicine Practitioner Association (EHTPA), campaigning for the statutary regulation of herbalists. If you would like more information please go to the EHTPA website or the National Institute of Medical Herbalists (NIMH) website. If you would like to sign the petition you may print off the following sheet and send the signed petition to us by the 20th November.
Anyone wishing to write to their local Member of Parliament in support of herbal medicine can use these sample letters, sent to us from the European Herbal Practitioners Association (EHPA). You can simply put your address at the top, your name at the bottom, sign it and send to your MP. Adding a few lines to make the letter more personal is always beneficial. Alternatively you could write your own letter.
You can find your MPs details here: http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/