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Natural Medicines

Volume 163: debated on Monday 4 December 1989

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To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many experts in natural medicine he proposes to appoint to the Medicines Commission and the section 4 committees in his current review of nominations; and if any such appointment will come from the nominations proposed to him by the medicines advisory research committee of the Natural Medicines Society.

[holding answer 24 November 1989]: Appointments and re-appointments to the Medicines Commission have been made by United Kingdom health and agriculture Ministers and by United Kingdom health Ministers to the Committees on Safety of Medicines, on Review of Medicines and on Dental and Surgical Materials. Details have been placed in the Library.A member of the Medicines Commission has a special interest in holistic medicine. His term of office continues until December 1991. We understand the Natural Medicines Society to be interested in herbal and homoeopathic medicine. No practitioners in these fields have been added to the advisory bodies either on the instance of the society or of any other organisation consulted.We are aware of public expectations of access to such remedies with, of course, adequate assurances as to their safety and quality and as to the basis of any curative claims. Their safety and quality can be determined in the normal way. Criteria for assessing the efficacy of herbal preparations are set out in the published 1985 information sheet which was accepted by the herbal industry. There is therefore no general need for herbalists on the advisory bodies. Homoeopathic products are not currently subject to European Community pharmaceutical directives. A directive is, however, expected to be submitted to the Council of Ministers early in the new year. It would have been inappropriate to have anticipated this directive in decisions about United Kingdom statutory bodies. However, officials are in touch with the Natural Medicines Group and similar organisations to prepare for the directive.