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In the course of a long correspondence with the MHRA about their endorsement of a dishonest label for a herbal preparation, arnica gel, I eventually got an admission from them that the stuff doesn’t work.

For earlier episodes in this saga, see part 1, part 2, part 3 and part 4.

“As you have clearly identified the Directive is far from perfect. The vast majority of herbal products currently on the UK market without claims are of unproven benefit.”
Dr Linda Anderson, B.Pharm., PhD,
Pharmaceutical assessor at the MHRA.

They didn’t explain why, in that case, they approved a label that says “it helps to relieve symptoms . . .”The MHRA has on its web site (Jan 2007) a document “Using herbal medicines: Advice to consumers“. It includes the following passage.

Which herbal medicines have been assessed by the Regulator?

  • Look for PL or THR on the product labels. Herbal medicines licensed in the UK have a PL (product licence) number on the label.
  • Traditional herbal medicines registered in the UK have a THR (traditional herbal registration) number on the label. The first registered products under this new scheme are expected to reach the UK market in the coming months.
  • Both these kinds of medicines are regulated by the MHRA and meet assured standards.
  • Other herbal medicines on the UK market have not been assessed by the MHRA.

“Both these kinds of medicines are regulated by the MHRA and meet assured standards.” would, by most people, be interpreted to mean that the MHRA was providing some sort of asssurance that the stuff worked. It doesn’t. This wording is, to my mind, misleading and disgraceful.

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