Under a draft directive from the European Commission, vitamins and mineral supplements will be reclassified as medicines and subject to "legislative discipline" if Britain agrees to be harmonized in the united EC.
multiple of the recommended daily allowances (RDA) possibly one and a half times would be subject to the same laws as drugs and only allowed to be sold through a chemist or on prescription by someone with a drug product licence.
In discussing the directive on 6 March nine of the EC states voted that any vitamins higher than one and a half times the RDA should fall under this discipline.
The sole country dissenting was Britain, which voted that food supplements should remain freely available provided they are safe.
This means that vitamins like vitamin C above 60 mgs, vitamin A above 1000 International Units, or vitamin B6 above 2.25 mg would have to be sold by prescription.
Because product licences cost more than lb10,000 for each individual product, the directive would probably be devastating to health food stores, says the Society for the Promotion of Nutritional Therapy (SPNT). "They would have to go out of business, or else reduce the dosages of their products to one and a half times the RDA."
The society also felt that the directive would have a "devastating effect" on complementary medicine practitioners.
If you disagree with this directive, the SPNT suggests that you write to your MP and European MP telling him or her that you object to being harmonized or wish Britain to obtain an exemption from the forthcoming directive. For more information, send a SAE to SPNT at 2 Hampden Lodge, Hailsham Rd, Heathfield, E.Sussex TN21 8AE.
Meanwhile, in America, the Bush administration has a similar move afoot with its recently proposed Nutritional Labeling Education Act (NLEA).
Although the act, proposed last November, began as a move to end confusion in labelling, the Food and Drug Administration has extended its proposal to reclassify vitamins as drugs and therefore limit their potencies and availability.