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In Brief

Supplements Directive taken to court
Two separate legal challenges to the European Food Supplements Directive, which became law in 2002 but is still being implemented across the European Union and still not finalised in parts, have been heard in the European Court of Justice. A verdict is expected in June, although the hearing?s senior judge will give his opinion in April. The challengers — UK-based Health Food Manufacturers Association and National Association of Health Stores (jointly), and the pan-European body, the Alliance for Natural Health — were encouraged by the senior judge?s remark that the process for adding nutrients to the directive?s positive list was not transparent. Only one directive has ever been overturned by the court.

South Africa given herbal alternative
Fears that South Africa?s botanicals sector would be regulated as medicines have been alleviated after Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang stated the bill in question would be amended. If the bill became law in its current guise, African traditional medicines, homeopathic remedies, and Chinese and Ayurvedic medicines would have to go through pharmaceutical-style testing that many think would destroy the industry. Tshabalala-Msimang said her department ?would like to avoid the pitfall of putting such products in the same regulatory environment as pharmaceutical drugs, whose testing and control is very different.? It is estimated 80 per cent of South Africans use alternative medicines.

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