Herbal medicines, the MHRA, and insight

Press release the other day:

100th traditional herbal registration granted

The number of herbal products registered under the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) scheme hit the 100 mark today increasing consumer choice for safe herbal products across the UK.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) THR scheme has been designed so that the public will no longer have to guess at the safety and quality of herbal medicines as there is continuing evidence of low grade, and sometimes dangerous, unlicensed products on the market.

Problems have ranged from products containing the wrong, and sometimes toxic, herbs as well as so-called ‘herbal’ products that have been adulterated with random quantities of potent pharmaceutical substances to enhance their effect.

More widespread is the problem of weak or absent product information. Consumers were not informed on whether there would be interactions with other medicines, any known side effects or if the product would be safe to be taken in pregnancy or by children.

MHRA Head of Herbal Medicine Policy, Richard Woodfield, said: “The growth of the THR scheme means that consumers will have access to a wide choice of over-the-counter herbal medicines made to assured standards.

“The current signs are that the market will be lively and competitive. The key difference for consumers is that in future they will be in the driving seat and able to make an informed choice when they wish to use these medicines.”

The scheme takes full effect from 30 April 2011.

I find the continuing enthusiasm for MHRA approval for non evidence based products worrying. How on earth are people meant to get fair unbiased advice about health products when the MHRA are approving things that don’t work?

One Response to “Herbal medicines, the MHRA, and insight”

  1. Rick March 22, 2011 at 11:33 am #

    There was an article in the Daily Mail yesterday about a woman who successfully invented a herbal cream for eczema, as her daughter had suffered from a very serious instance of the condition from a young age. I have had mild eczema from the age of about 7 and nothing ever seems to be able to shift it. But all anyone could say in response to this story was ‘it’ll be full of toxins, I’ll avoid it like the plague’ even though there is some evidence that it works. I would welcome more stringent, more widespread regulation of such treatments so that there is a legitimate alternative to the mass-produced pharmaceutical products.