UK Retailers Take Government Agencies to Court Over Kava Ban

Proceedings commenced against MCA and FSA The National Associations of Health Stores (NAHS) has issued notice of proceedings against the Medicines Control Agency (MCA) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) in their latest attempt to overturn the ban on the popular herb kava-kava.

The independent retail sector is unanimous in its view that the risk/benefit ratio applied to justify the marketing of dangerous pharmaceutical drugs, should not be applied in the same way to natural health products. NAHS has gathered evidence from around the world and has demonstrated that the level of risk to public health over use of Kava-kava is lower than that posed by the consumption of commonly available items such as alcohol, tobacco and peanuts –and every single “overthe-counter” drug -therefore it should remain on free-sale.

NAHS firmly believes that not only has the MCA and FSA acted unlawfully and withheld vital evidence in their sham consultation exercises with regard to these bans, but they have also failed to take account of many relevant factors, including the medical “gold-standard” Cochrane review indicating that kavakava is not just effective, but also safe - especially when compared to the pharmaceutical alternatives such as the benzodiazapenes.

NAHS have complained many times that complete data from MCA has been astonishingly difficult to obtain – with the MCA even claiming that data from America (on which they were to base their decisions) was confidential. However, NAHS obtained this data by faxed request to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) – securing all US medical records pertaining to kava-kava.

NAHS Director, Ralph Pike, accuses MCA of putting forward supposed ‘evidence’ that is not based on the available facts, and in failing to undertake a thorough and objective assessment of the suspected adverse reaction reports alleged to be due to kava-kava use. Moreover, he claims that the ‘evidence’ relied upon by the MCA is woefully inadequate and compiled with astonishing ineptitude.

Speaking on the 4th of April, Ralph Pike stressed that NAHS had no option but to commence judicial review proceedings in the High Court. He said, “This ban is unlawful, irrational, scientifically and morally bankrupt, procedurally defective and may even be in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights”. He added, “Sledgehammer and nut comes to mind. If the MCA had acted in a proportionate manner and asked for improved label information, as they recently did with St John’s wort, that would be more than adequate to ensure protection for consumers from a herbal remedy that has been used for thousands of years”.

Senior Scientific Advisor
Professor Arnold Beckett OBE PhD DSc FRPharmS

Associate Members of the NAHS
Absolute Aromas - Bee Health - Biocare - Bioforce - Bional - Cambridge Bioceuticals - Capsugel - Country Life - Earth Force - Enzsana Granovita - Health & Diet - Optima Health - Health Leads (UK) - Herbal Health - Hildreth & Cocker - Infinity Foods - Marriage’s Nature’s Aid - Nature’s Plus - Panda - Pharmadass - Pharma Nord - Pure Health - Salus - Savant Distribution - Solgar Specialist Herbal Supplies - The Health Store - The Green People - Vega - Viridian - Vitabiotics - York Nutritional Laboratories

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