Paola Testori Coggi, Director General of DG Health and Consumers, explains the Herbals Directive
On 30 April 2011, the period granted for herbal medicines to be registered will expire. This deadline brings to an end a seven year period allowed by a Directive adopted in 2004. The Director General of the European Commission for Health and Consumers explains the situation in order to address certain concerns expressed by citizens in the European Union.
Background information: Some plants contain substances that may be used to treat diseases. Medicinal products that are made from these substances are known as "Herbal Medicinal Products". Even though they are natural, a number of these products may be dangerous for patients. This is why they are covered by pharmaceutical legislation, which aims to protect public health by ensuring the safety, efficacy and quality of medicinal products.
However, traditional herbal medicinal products have particular characteristics, notably their long tradition of use. To take account of this, the EU adopted in 2004 the Herbal Directive (Directive 2004/24/EC) introducing a lighter, simpler and less costly registration procedure for them, while providing the necessary guarantees of quality, safety and efficacy. It gave an exceptionally long transitional period of 7 years to register traditional herbal medicinal products that were already on the market on the date of entry into force of the Directive. This 7 years transitional period ends on 30 April 2011.
The Herbal Directive regulates traditional herbal medicinal products through a simple and light registration procedure. It does not apply to alternative therapies and does not ban any specific substances, practitioners, books or plants.
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