Stop the ban on unlicensed herbal medicines - the call from a York MEP
6:10am 7th February 2011
(Updated 6:11am 7th February 2011)
York MEP Godfrey Bloom is demanding the Government opts out of an EU directive banning all herbal medicines manufactured by unlicensed practitioners.
The directive is due to come into force on May 1 in the UK unless the government sets up its own statutory regulation on alternative and complementary medicine.
Godfrey Bloom said:
"In this country 5.8 million people rely on herbal medicines but the Government has still not made a decision on introducing statutory regulation.
"It is just not good enough that they have still not reached a decision, despite more than a decade of parliamentary consultation and debate," said Mr Bloom, UKIP Euro-MP.
"Millions of British people dependent on such remedies, some used for hundreds of years, are faced with the real possibility that they will no longer be able to access the products they rely on for their well-being.
"And on top of that tens of thousands of jobs in the thriving complementary medicine market are at risk.
"I am worried that this will turn out to be another example of the Government giving into the Brussels bureaucrats," said Mr Bloom.
"The UK-based Alliance for Natural Health (ANH) is taking legal action against the directive and they have my full support,".
The ANH estimates the cost of gaining a licence, which sets safety and quality standards similar to those required for pharmaceutical drugs,
at between £80,000 and £120,000 per herb.
For big market products, such as echinacea, that is manageable but many companies involved in the supply and sale of tradition herbal medicines are small and medium-sized companies, which cannot afford the cost of complying with the new legislation.
Godfrey Bloom said:
"A danger is that desperate consumers will turn to the internet where safety and quality cannot be assured," said Mr Bloom.
"I have personally been involved with a UK herbalist who has had to relocate to Guernsey so she can continue in business outside the EU.
"She sells herbal painkilling tea to a recipe brought to the Caribbean from Africa in the days of the slave trade, and used successfully ever since. I know someone who had it as post-operative pain-killer following a massive operation, and it worked like a dream, with no side-effects.
`'But she was jumped on for selling her tea as a painkiller because she was not allowed to say that unless she had spent abut half a million quid on testing it as though it were a pharmaceutical product,"
"This is the madness that becomes commonplace when the EU interferes".
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