European regulation model for herbal medicine: The assessment of the EU monograph and the safety and efficacy evaluation in marketing authorization or registration in Member States.
BACKGROUND: The European Union (EU) has created a regulatory framework for herbal medicinal products (HMPs) since the enforcement of Directive 2004/24/EC. Substantial achievements have been made, with 1719 traditional use marketing registrations (TURs) and 859 well-established use marketing authorizations (WEU-MAs) for HMPs granted by the end of 2016. Apparently, the European regulation model has worked out well and in that the essential feature is the use of EU herbal monographs into those granted WEU-MAs and TURs. PURPOSE: A systematic analysis of the European regulation model for HMPs and the EU herbal monograph's part of this model are undertaken to assist understanding of the EU legislation particularly for interested parties those from outside EU area, and afterwards, to help in decision-making in the HMPs registration in European market for pharmaceutical companies, as well as in the establishment of legislation in countries with strong traditional use of herbal remedies. METHODS: A search of PubMed, ScienceDirect, the European Medicines Agency website and the Heads of Medicines Agencies website was conducted (up to December 2017), and the available information on regulation of HMPs in the EU was collected. RESULTS: The evaluation of applications by National Competent Authorities (NCAs) at a national level together with the assessment of EU monographs by the Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC) at the European level constitute the European regulation framework for HMPs. As the scientific opinion about the safety and efficacy of HMPs from HMPC, the EU herbal monographs have been given a constitutional-based meaning to the TURs and WEU-MAs of HMPs and play a supportive function in the marketing procedure in Member States. CONCLUSION: The European framework has provided a powerful regulation model for harmonization of scientific assessment and facilitation of product marketing. For the pharmaceutical industries particularly those outside the EU, optimal use of the EU herbal monograph in their marketing procedure in Europe could be of great benefit. Furthermore, this model is well worth learning from for other countries and regions outside the EU to help the establishment of legislation in countries with strong traditional use of herbal remedies and contribute to the safe use of traditional herbal medicine.