asked the Secretary of State for Social Services on what factors he based his decision that natural medicines should meet the same test criteria as allopathic medicines within the review of herbal products under the Medicines Act 1968.
The criteria laid down in the Medicines Act 1968 have to be applied to all medicines, new and old, allopathic or other, and similar criteria are required to be applied to most of these medicines by virtue of European Community pharmaceutical directives. Before a product licence is granted, the licensing authority satisfies itself as regards the particular product, on its safety, efficacy and quality. Allopathic and natural medicines must therefore be treated equally for licensing purposes. As regards effectiveness for treating serious conditions, we are looking for fuller evidence than we would need for products for minor conditions. If that evidence is not readily available, officials are happy to discuss with manufacturers, modifications to therapeutic claims which could allow the product to stay on the market.