Magazine article Drug Topics

R.Ph. Urged to Take Active Role in Recommending Herbals

Magazine article Drug Topics

R.Ph. Urged to Take Active Role in Recommending Herbals

Article excerpt

The herbal industry has a tarnished reputation, even though an increasing number of consumers are embracing these products. Who's to blame, and what can be done to solve the problem?

"There's no question the herbal industry in many respects is its own worst enemy," said Varro Tyler, Ph.D., dean emeritus, Purdue University School of Pharmacy, West Lafayette, Ind. Speaking to attendees of the National Community Pharmacists Association/Chain Drug Marketing Association midyear conference held recently in Cincinnati, Tyler said manufacturers who make outrageous claims for their herbal products do the industry a disservice. Asserting that "marketing overweighs the science," he suggested that instead of spending huge sums to advertise their products, manufacturers should allocate funds for research.

Tyler was quick to point out that the industry would benefit if the Food & Drug Administration followed in the footsteps of the United Kingdom and France in allowing efficacy claims based on traditional use. He urged that these products be approved as drugs with standards of quality.

Tyler also argued that health claims should be permitted based on reasonable certainty of efficacy. He believes that if herbal manufacturers can't patent their products, they won't have the incentive to invest in research. "In Germany, they will allow that kind of claim to be made on the basis of much less information-and also if the product has been marketed for years. There, the herbal products are approved as drugs with quality standards, and it works very well. I strongly recommend this practice be followed in the United States, but the FDA has no interest in the subject," he said. About 50 investigational new drug applications have been filed for herbal products in the United States, he noted, but the products have never reached the new drug application stage. …

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