Economy

Ayurvedic medicines face EU ban from May 1

Vidya Ram London | Updated on February 03, 2011 Published on February 03, 2011

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Practitioners of Ayurvedic and other traditional medicines in Europe are bracing themselves for a tough licensing system similar to that for Western medicines.

The EU's Traditional Herbal Medical Products Directive is set to come into effect on May 1, and requires any herbal medicine sold over the counter to have either a Traditional Herbal Registration or a marketing authorisation. The legislation is tantamount to a ban, as just 70-80 herbal products in the UK (none of which is Ayurvedic) have so far got the licence.

Mr Sebastian Pole, an Ayurvedic practitioner who runs Bristol-based firm Pukka Herbs with around 500 employees in India, said his company had been working on obtaining licences for six products at the cost of around £100,000. “It's a very onerous process and is going to have a very negative impact on all traditional medicines,” he told Business Line. “Yes, it's good to improve standards but this is like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

Ayurvedic products account for around 5 per cent of the UK herbal medicine industry.

Dr Shantha Godagama, President, Ayurvedic Medical Association, who sits on the advisory board of the UK's Medicines and Health Care Products Regulatory Agency, said that while change and regulation were necessary in the long term to improve standards, in the short term it would merely reduce choice and hit the smallest firms the hardest. He said that in his time on the advisory committee, not a single application for a herbalist licence had been received.

“What we need to look at is whether there is a fault in the application system and whether it is too onerous,” he said. “In the short term, there is simply not going to be enough products to meet customer demand.”

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Published on February 03, 2011
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