Homeopathy has a long tradition in the UK, yet this alternative system of medicine may now be under threat.
The legislation regulating the safety and prescription of medicines is undergoing a major review in July to update and simplify it. Homeopaths worry the anti-homeopathy lobby may use the law to restrict the practice.
It has become established custom and practice for many homeopaths and patients to procure remedies via the internet and telephone.
But under the 1968 Medicines Act, a person may only purchase medicines that are exempt from licensing in person from a pharmacist. This means that the 2,000 practising homeopaths and the 6 million to 9 million patients who use homeopathy are technically acting illegally.
With just five licensed homeopathic pharmacies in the UK, homeopaths say it is logistically unworkable to pick up remedies via a face-to-face consultation with a pharmacist.
They are calling for an amendment in the law to recognise the modern ways of purchasing homeopathic medicines.
“This law was made decades before mail order was a common business practice, and the internet had become a primary driver of commercial enterprise,” says Karin Mont, chair of the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths.
From July 1, the new law, which will be renamed the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, will not contain an exemption to include homeopaths’ modern prescribing methods, according to the government agency the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
“We are concerned that our ongoing access to unlicensed homeopathic medicines may be restricted by the retention of an obsolete law,” Mont says.
She fears that the manufacturers (pharmacies) will suffer the most if the law is enforced, because it would mean a serious loss of trade for them.
Homeopaths say that a simple solution to the anomaly would be to make homeopathic medicines exempt in the new law.
The main stakeholders within the homeopathy profession have worked together for over 18 months regarding the Act’s revision, and had consultations with the MHRA, but “the efforts and suggestions that we made have fallen on deaf ears”, says John Morgan, managing director of Helios Homeopathic Pharmacy.
A spokesperson for the MHRA said they have no plans to change their position on homeopathic medicines in relation to the Medicines Act. “We will investigate any complaint concerned with the manufacture and supply of medicines for human use. Each case will be considered on its individual merits,” the MHRA said in an e-mail.
Continue Homeopaths tailor remedies to the individual patient’s needs
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