Retailers angry at echinacea warning

Health shops have queried a warning by the Irish Medicines Board warning parents not to give herbal products containing echinacea to children under the age of 12.

The IMB said there was a “lack of scientific data” for giving such products to children and asked retailers to ensure children’s products containing echinacea are removed from sale.

Herbal products on the Irish market were previously unregulated but the introduction of the European Herbal Medicines Directive last year prompted a review.

The IMB has concluded that the use of echinacea can be associated with rare side effects, mainly allergic reactions, which in some cases can be severe.

However, the Irish Association of Health Stores said the IMB had not issued a recommendation but had instead introduced a ban.

The IAHS said the IMB had based its decision on an EU source which was four years old and which stated that “specific risk in children over 1 year of age is not documented”.

The IAHS said echinacea had been safely and effectively used by children for almost 20 years. It said it had no knowledge of any adverse event in all that time.


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