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Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said the medicines will still be available once all practitioners who supply them in the UK are registered with the Health Professions Council.
The European law comes into force in April, banning practitioners from supplying their patients with unlicensed herbal medicine.
Mr Lansley wrote in a ministerial statement: “This Government wishes to ensure that the public can continue to have access to these products.”
The Health Professions Council is being tasked with creating a register of practitioners who will be subject to a stricter regulatory process.
The statement goes on: “This approach will give practitioners and consumers continuing access to herbal medicines. It will do this by allowing us to use a derogation in the European legislation to set up a UK scheme to permit and regulate the supply, via practitioners, of unlicensed manufactured herbal medicines to meet individual patient needs.”
All UK health departments will consult on the draft legislation, and the aim is to have it in place in 2012.
Acupuncture falls outside the EU directive and is not affected.
The EU directive demands that a traditional herbal medicinal product must be shown to have been in use for 30 years in the EU (or at least 15 years in the EU and 15 years elsewhere) for it to be licensed and obtainable over the counter.
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