Wednesday, October 28, 2009

MHRA cause Boots to remove homeopathic product and update website

Back in July, Boots had been promoting Nelson's Sulphur 30c homeopathic remedies, alongside a pdf to download to help you choose which homeopathic product you thought you needed, complete with therapeutic indications. (I hate it when I forget to cache a website that's being complained about. Never mind...)

After a complaint from this site, the MHRA contacted Boots and instructed them to change their website, using only the phrase
Nelsons Sulphur 30c Pillules is a homeopathic medicinal product without approved therapeutic indications
according to the current legislation. Boots have since removed the product completely, however the Patient Guide to Homeopathy is still on the website. MHRA are now aware of this and so hopefully it too will disappear soon.

Not that it matters really, because Holland & Barrett are selling Nelson's Sulphur 30c pillules, complete with therapeutic indications, and completely contravening the law (original link to website here). The MHRA are now aware, and the offending site can be seen here.
Indeed, even Nelson's own site (original site here) deems itself above the law by claiming that the product is "known by homeopaths for its many skin benefits" which is woolly wording in my book, but we'll see what the MHRA do.
(Nelson's also promote the product with therapeutic indications on their Nelson's Homeopathy page here).



Friday, October 23, 2009

Totally Hypothetical Remedy? - MHRA introduce certification mark for herbal remedies.

This is the new Traditional Herbal Registration certification mark. Well, it is apart from the 'Warning', which is what I think it is lacking.

According to the MHRA, this
indicates that the herbal medicine has been registered with the MHRA under the Traditional Herbal Registration (THR) scheme and meets the required standards relating to its quality, safety, evidence of traditional use and other criteria as set out under the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD) 2004/24/EC.
There have been 92 applications since the scheme began in March 06.

The most important line is this one:
Under this scheme, the permitted indications for the medicine are based on traditional usage and not on evidence of effectiveness of the product.
My bold. So, as I wrote before with homeopathy, as long as the seller can demonstrate safety of the product and a history of use for the particular therapeutic indication, then it can receive the THR stamp and be sold legitimately, despite there being no investigation into whether it works or not.

[The MHRA guidance states:
European Directive 2004/24/EC on traditional herbal medicinal products was brought forward specifically in recognition of the position that for many herbal medicines it was difficult for companies to meet the full requirements for a marketing authorisation, particularly in relation to efficacy.
So, because it was difficult to prove they had any efficacy, it was deemed best to create a class of 'pseudo-medicines' that could pretend to be effective, but didn't have to prove it.]

On a positive note, any product with this mark on it will single it out clearly and obviously to me as snakeoil - if it were a *real* medicine that, you know, actually had some effect, then it would be marketed as such and would have some evidence to back it up.

So, perhaps we should look at this stamp as a victory for evidence-based medicine, as it singles out products without any provable efficacy for all to see.