According to an advisory released by the Irish Medicines Board (IMB), Echinacea, a very popular herbal treatment, has been banned from being administered to children below the age of 12 years.
Echinacea is a popular flower-based herbal remedy often given to diminish the severity of common cold and to reduce its frequency of occurrence.
AdvertisementThe latest safety evaluations of IMB states that using Echinacea could be linked to rare side effects, mainly allergic reactions which in some cases may be severe. The board does not believe this to be a serious safety issue, but says that the measures taken, which they claim are based on scientific evaluations, are merely precautionary in nature.
Supporters of herbal remedies have been critical of the board's decision. The Irish Association of Health Stores has demanded that the board show them the evidence on which they based their decision. Their contention is that the products containing Echinacea had been given to children in Ireland for almost 20 years, and that over this period no adverse event has been reported.
The association also believes that there was no evidence of the product being unsafe and that the IMB was completely unjustified in banning the remedy for children. The ban on the herb would elevate infection rates and increase the sales of antibiotics, they warned.
The herbalists who consider Echinacea a very safe drug point out that banning peanuts is a more sensible measure to banning Echinacea. Despite the protests, the IMB is going ahead with the ban and have asked retailers, and others involved in marketing and sales of the drug, to remove it from the shelves. Adult product, however, is intact.
The decision to ban the product by the IMB has been influenced by the Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products of the European Medicines Agency.