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Natural medicine: drugged to death

MagazineAugust 2002 (Vol. 13 Issue 5)Natural medicine: drugged to death

Hard on the heels of its 'success' in bulldozing through a directive severely curtailing vitamin supplements, the European Commission is busy in its self-appointed task of dismantling natural medicine, bit by stealthy bit

Hard on the heels of its 'success' in bulldozing through a directive severely curtailing vitamin supplements, the European Commission is busy in its self-appointed task of dismantling natural medicine, bit by stealthy bit.


The latest manoeuvre is to amend the Pharmaceutical Directive to give regulatory agencies like the Medicines Control Agency in the UK sweeping powers to, in effect, classify any healthcare product it chooses as a 'drug'.


The new amendments seek to redefine 'medicine'. The current Pharmaceutical Directive defines a drug by the manner in which it is administered - that is, by a doctor or pharmacist who claims it will help you get better.


The new amendments would shift the definition of a drug from the way it is administered to the actions of its ingredients. The revised act would classify any substance that can be shown to restore, correct or modify your body physiologically in any way as a drug.


This absurdly elastic definition em-braces all alternative products - from flower essences and aromatherapy to powdered energy drinks, herbal cough drops and natural insect repellent. As such, they will be subject to exhaustive licensing procedures costing upward of a million pounds. Any product whose manufacturer couldn't afford to license (probably half of all products you now enjoy) would disappear.


Under this all-embracing definition, an apple a day to keep the doctor away would be illegal - unless apple growers managed to get a drug licence. Cranberry juice for cystitis, vinegar for beestings, prunes for constipation, even Lucozade would all be against the law.


The most insidious aspect of the proposed amendments is the supremacy they give the Pharmaceutical Directive over every other law, including the new Vitamins and Traditional Herbal Directives. Herbs and vitamin supplements would still fall under its jurisdiction and automatically be classed as drugs, subject to licensing, regulation and potential ban.
These directives are all smudged with the fingerprints of the pharmaceutical giants. Buried in the Vitamins Directive is a clause prohibiting any company from saying that it is difficult, if not impossible, in these days of intensive farming and depleted soil to get your full complement of vital nutrients from an ordinary diet.


The amended Pharmaceutical Directive would allow drug companies for the first time to advertise directly to European consumers. Before long, the drug giants will be allowed to engage in the type of wholesale, direct-to-consumer appeals allowed in America.


In Britain, even the Labour government is queasy over these proposals. In a letter to Alex Salmond MP in early June, Philip Hunt, the Undersecretary of Health, wrote: 'These amendments would have unacceptable and unwarranted consequences on the different regulatory systems currently in place for a wide variety of products.' The government, he added, 'sees no justification for this proposal and will continue to resist it, enlisting the support of other member states.'


We at What Doctors Don't Tell You believe that the battle won't only be fought in Brussels, but with the might of 20 million consumers of natural products. Your voice will determine whether these new laws are adopted in the UK and elsewhere.


It is to that end that the Health Freedom Movement was created. In late May, we assembled some of the leading lights of the alternative community - consumer groups, practitioner societies, retailers, manufacturers and suppliers. It was unanimously agreed to create a non-profit organisation with a mission to mount a massive publicity campaign to inform the public about the EU directives and to organise a major protest campaign. Our actions will include posters, leaflets, letter-writing campaigns and petitions, and will culminate in a massive street protest. Through our contacts, we have already created channels to reach millions of consumers. By the time we are done, every consumer of alternative health products will know about it and know what to do.


Our long-term mission is to create new and fair standards by which to judge natural and orthodox medicines. We wish to protect your inalienable right to the healthcare of your choice.


We would work to create a new controlling body, through an act of Parliament, responsible for reasonable controls of CAM supplements, products and therapies relative to their risk. This would answer the EU's claim that its directives are being introduced to safeguard the consumer. This act of Parliament would safeguard freedom of healthcare choice in the UK for all time.


The Health Freedom Movement will also work with other organisations in other countries to ensure freedom of healthcare throughout the world by fighting against the US Food and Drug Administration, which plans to enact legislation similar to the EU directives, and the UN's Codex Alimentarius, which will attempt next fall to do the same on a global level.


If you value free access to many health products, if you've enjoyed the benefit of any sort of alternative treatment, each and every one of you needs to join us in the fight against health tyranny. Within two next weeks, write to your MEP to urge him to reject the European Commission's amendments to the Pharmaceutical Directive.


For the longer fight, the Health Freedom Movement is now open for business and ready to receive your donations (see our website at: www.healthfreedommovement.com). Your money will be used to print millions of posters, flyers and media releases. Please give as generously as you can. Send your cheques, made out to the 'Health Freedom Movement', to 2 Salisbury Road, London SW19 4EZ.


Help us and we won't stop until we've won.


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