HC Deb 28 January 2003 vol 398 cc822-3W
Chris Grayling

To ask the Secretary of State for Health what assessment he has made of the likely cost impact on prescribing conventional medicines following the changes to the range of traditional herbal medicines available in the UK. [91586]

Ms Blears

We anticipate that, if agreed, the proposed Directive on Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products would lead to a substantial expansion in the availability of herbal remedies made to assured standards of safety and quality and accompanied by systematic information about safe use of the product. This would extend the options available for members of the public wishing to take responsibility for their own health and in particular would help the public to make an informed choice of a remedy appropriate to their needs.

We also agree with the views expressed by many in the herbal sector that the proposed directive could lead to increased public confidence in traditional herbal remedies, which could lead to a beneficial effect on the market.

Given an extension of products made to assured standards, we would expect a reduction in the risk of members of the public requiring medical treatment, including prescribed orthodox medicines, as a direct result of taking poorly labelled unlicensed herbal remedies inappropriate to their needs or containing dangerous or illegal ingredients.

Overall, there are likely to be many factors affecting the usage of traditional herbal remedies and there will also continue to be many other factors affecting expenditure on prescribed orthodox medicines.

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