New herbal medicine adviceWatchdog promises to crackdown on herbal cowboys

28 July 2006

The medicines watchdog has stepped up its fight against herbal remedies which make bogus claims about their  health benefits.

The (MHRA) has also issued new guidance to consumers on the safe use of herbal medicines and how to avoid low quality products that pose a risk to the public.

“Using herbal medicines: Advice to consumers” can be found on the MHRA web site and warns consumers to be wary of unlicensed herbal medicines illegally claiming to treat particular diseases.

MHRA cracks down on illegal claims

The MHRA has recently forced a number of companies to withdraw unlicensed herbal medicines that made illegal claims. These included:

  • Dr & Herbs, which had claimed in an advert that an immunity booster was 'effective to fight against tumour'
  • Real Herbs/Real Dream Ltd advertised that a capsule product could ‘inhibit the growth of tumour’
  • Rena Chinese Medical Centre advertised that clinical trials proved that a capsule product had ‘strong effects in controlling HIV’.  It was also claimed that taking the product should improve pneumonia in 6 – 12 hours.

'Firm regulatory action'

Richard Woodfield, Head of Herbal Policy at MHRA, said: ‘The MHRA will not hesitate to take firm regulatory action against those who seek to take advantage of the public when they are most vulnerable. The good name of responsible operators in the herbal sector is being brought into disrepute by a minority that disregard laws intended to protect the consumer.’

Adverse effects associated with the use of these products should be reported to the MHRA using the Yellow Card Reporting Scheme.