United Kingdom. The government has called for a wide public debate on the best way to regulate herbal medicines. The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health (Baroness Hayman) recently met with representatives of the herbal medicines industry and drew attention to the sharp contrast between the rigorous requirements applied licensed pharmaceutical products to demonstrate safety, quality and efficacy and the absence of these requirements for unlicensed products such as herbal medicines.
The current regulatory framework (Medicines Act 1968, Section 12) exempts simple herbal remedies comprising only dried herbs from the licensing requirements applied to medicines, provided that they are sold with no written recommendations for use. Similarly, the licensing requirements do not apply to products sold by herbalists at their own discretion. However, many manufactured herbal remedies are sold from pharmacies and health shops without having been licensed. These products escape the licensing requirements through being considered to be food supplements.
Reference: The Pharmaceutical Journal 262; p.418, 27 March 1999.