With thanks to nutraingredients.com

France has taken a step to liberalise its highly restrictive herbal regulations by issuing two national decrees that should allow for greater access to botanical supplements.

One of the decrees will provide a distribution benefit by allowing a broad range of botanicals to be sold in non-pharmacy outlets such as supermarkets and health food stores for the first time.

The other recognises that botanical products have a somewhat unique status and can be sold as both food supplements and medicines.

Until now almost all botanical products except basic ‘spice rack’ herbs and a few others could only be sold in France as medicines in pharmacies.

Jacques Karlsson, the general secretary of the French food supplements trade association, Synadiet, said while the decrees were yet to become law as detail required further resolution, the French government move was significant.

Important step

“This is a very important step because it recognises herbal products for what they are rather than mis-grouping them all together as medicines and restricting their access,” Karlsson told NutraIngredients.com.

“But it is not yet written in law and we have not seen the final text so we wait for that.”

He said the Traditional Herbal Medicines Product Directive (THMPD) had not yet been transposed into the French legislature.

Most botanical products have been classified as medicines in France since the enactment of a 1941 law and hence restricted to pharmacies.

According to Patrick Coppens, the secretary-general of the Brussels-based industry group, the European Responsible Nutrition Alliance (ERNA), the French decrees were a step toward lifting “the pharma monopoly” that had existed in France for so long.

“The legislation is not complete but this is a move in the right direction,” he said. “With the application of the principles of mutual recognition there could soon be a lot more botanical products sold in non-pharmacy markets on the French market.”