THMPD legal challenge delayed

A legal challenge to the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive (THMPD) due to have begun in April has been delayed.

The case for a judicial review of the THMPD, proposed jointly by the Alliance for Natural Health/European Benefyt Foundation, was to have been filed at the High Court in London on April 30 2011, the day the transition phase of the THMPD ended.

A progress update on the case, issued on June 3, explains that “the scale of the challenge and the need to coordinate activities, not only in the UK but also in other parts of the EU and beyond, has meant that we are delayed” The statement continues: “Our lawyers at the leading London-based European law chambers, 11KBW, and we feel strongly that we must do everything in our capacity to ensure that we are as carefully prepared as possible.”

ANH’s technical director, Dr Robert Verkerk, told Natural Products: “Everything is all go with the challenge although the additional work, and broadening of the scope of the challenge to include food supplements, novel foods etc., means we are delayed from our original timetable. Our view is that we will do everything we can to get this right – as we only get one chance!”

The ANH points out that in the meantime the effect of full implementation of the THMPD will be “protracted”. The campaign groups comments: “The Directive itself does not directly ban any product; rather, herbal products are at risk of becoming illegal once Member State competent authorities determine that ones selling as food supplements are illegal unless registered as medicines.”

In early March 2011 the Alliance for Natural Health announced that it had hit its fundraising target — having received donations of £90,000 from supporters — to enable it to proceed with the first stage of its legal challenge.