In the European Union (EU) herbal medicinal products have become increasingly important. This is, for instance, underlined by the recent introduction of a simplified procedure in the Member States of the EU allowing the registration of herbal medicinal products which fulfill the criteria of a traditional herbal medicinal product, i.e., sufficient evidence of its medicinal use throughout a period of at least 30 years for products in the EU and at least 15 years within the EU and 15 years elsewhere for products outside the EU. With regard to the manufacturing of these products and their quality, applications of traditional herbal medicinal products have to fulfil the same requirements as applications for a marketing authorization. The quality of herbal substances as well as herbal preparations will be determined by the availability of modern science-based public monographs in the European Pharmacopoeia and their equivalents developed by the pharmaceutical industry. The standards put forward in these monographs must allow us not only to define the quality of these products, but also to eliminate dangerous counterfeit, substandard, adulterated and contaminated (traditional) herbal medicinal products. The usefulness of these monographs to implement the criteria on quality and specifications put forward for these products in the different guidelines of the European Medicines Agency (EMEA) is discussed.
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