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WHO Expert Committee on Specifications for Pharmaceutical Preparations - WHO Technical Report Series, No. 863, Annex 11 (Guidelines for the Assessment of Herbal Medicines) - Thirty-fourth Report
(1996; 8 pages) [French] [Spanish]
Table of Contents
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentAssessment of quality
View the documentAssessment of safety
View the documentAssessment of efficacy
View the documentIntended use
View the documentUtilization of these guidelines
 

Assessment of quality

Pharmaceutical assessment

This should cover all important aspects of the quality assessment of herbal medicines. It should be sufficient to make reference to a pharmacopoeial monograph if one exists. If no such monograph is available, a monograph must be supplied and should be set out as in an official pharmacopoeia.

All procedures should be in accordance with good manufacturing practices.

Crude plant material

The botanical definition, including genus, species and authority, should be given to ensure correct identification of a plant. A definition and description of the part of the plant from which the medicine is made (e.g. leaf, flower, root) should be provided, together with an indication of whether fresh, dried or traditionally processed material is used. The active and characteristic constituents should be specified and, if possible, content limits should be defined. Foreign matter, impurities and microbial content should be defined or limited. Voucher specimens, representing each lot of plant material processed, should be authenticated by a qualified botanist and should be stored for at least a 10-year period. A lot number should be assigned and this should appear on the product label.

Plant preparations

Plant preparations include comminuted or powdered plant materials, extracts, tinctures, fatty or essential oils, expressed juices and preparations whose production involves fractionation, purification or concentration. The manufacturing procedure should be described in detail. If other substances are added during manufacture in order to adjust the plant preparation to a certain level of active or characteristic constituents or for any other purpose, the added substances should be mentioned in the manufacturing procedures. A method for identification and, where possible, assay of the plant preparation should be added. If identification of an active principle is not possible, it should be sufficient to identify a characteristic substance or mixture of substances (e.g. “chromatographic fingerprint”) to ensure consistent quality of the preparation.

Finished product

The manufacturing procedure and formula, including the amount of excipients, should be described in detail. A finished product specification should be defined. A method of identification and, where possible, quantification of the plant material in the finished product should be defined. If the identification of an active principle is not possible, it should be sufficient to identify a characteristic substance or mixture of substances (e.g. “chromatographic fingerprint”) to ensure consistent quality of the product. The finished product should comply with general requirements for particular dosage forms.

For imported finished products, confirmation of the regulatory status in the country of origin should be required. The WHO Certification Scheme on the Quality of Pharmaceutical Products Moving in International Commerce should be applied.

Stability

The physical and chemical stability of the product in the container in which it is to be marketed should be tested under defined storage conditions and the shelf-life should be established.

 

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