It would seem that some herbalists are not happy about the EU’s Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD). This is the directive that requires all herbal remedies sold over the counter to be approved by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and that some herbal remedies only be available on prescription from practitioners meeting strict guidelines. Since herbal remedies are being sold as medicine, and (unlike homeopathy) do have a pharmecological effect on the body, who can possibly object to that?
Sebastian Pole, co-founder of Pukka Herbs, can it would appear. I should point out that Pukka Herbs is going through the process of registering for the THMPD but the METRO carried his criticisms on Monday 18 April so I thought it would be worthwhile examining them. He says:
This new directive is going to drastically reduce consumer choice without really adding to any of the intended safety benefits.”
If anything, it is going to increase choice. At the moment, doctors are not allowed to prescribe herbal remedies as they have not been tested for safety and efficacy. If you do not want to take a Big Pharma product and would prefer a herbal remedy you are on your own. You have to describe your ailment to an unregistered herbalist and hope that they know what they are doing. This has not always been the case. This directive will change that.
It’s full of inconsistancies, discriminates against ethnic populations, limits innovation, ignores sustainable herb resources and the livelihood of herb growers, and is prohibitively expensive
He does not say what the inconsistancies are or how it ignores sustainable herb resources. As for the claim that it “discriminates against ethnic populations”, oh please! This is not a 1980s oppositionist gathering; you cannot win an argument by making unsubstantiated accusations of racism.
He elaborates on this a little further on by saying:
…because many Chinese and Ayurvedic remedies are multi-ingredient formulas, and the cost is exponentially linked to the number of ingredients in a product, the legislation is biased against such traditions.
Actually, it is close to linearly linked; test each ingredient and test the marketted combination. But talk of an ‘expontial’ increase in costs sounds scary; we’re into baffling with bullshit territory here
The claim that the Directive limits innovation is an interesting one. “Traditional” remedies are not innovative. The clue is in the name. If Pole means it limits new herbs, or new combinations of herbs, being put onto the market without being tested for their effects on people, frankly I see nothing wrong with that. MHRA regulations similarly limit such ‘innovation’ by Big Pharma and a good thing too. I do not buy his argument that it is prohibitively expensive either. Each remedy need be tested only once. And frankly, since he is making money selling herbal remedies to people what exactly is wrong with making sure the stuff he sells will cure and not kill them?
He says that “the majority of products on the market are already safe”. A calming spin that actually tells us nothing; 51% is a majority so his claim could be interpreted as saying that 49% are unsafe. I have no idea how many are safe (or effective) and frankly, without testing, neither has Pole. If Big Pharma complained about having to test products before selling them they would be torn apart but as usual the alternative medicine brigade demands a free ride.