Press Release

Tánaiste launches Complementary Therapy Report and Information Leaflet

The Tánaiste today (15 May 2006) launched the Report of the National Working Group on the Regulation of Complementary Therapists and an information leaflet for the public ‘Complementary Therapy – An Information Guide for the Public’.

Many people in Ireland now use complementary therapies and the Tánaiste said that she wanted to take a practical approach to help people to choose safely and wisely. The report brings together useful and interesting information on the complementary therapy sector in Ireland and abroad. It looks at the trends internationally in regulating this sector and brings together available data on the nature of the therapies available, the numbers involved, education and training and international experience.

The Group’s research reports that “the complementary and alternative therapy community in Ireland is a very disparate one with a broad range of levels of expertise, training and level of association with other practitioners and/or international organisations”. It goes on to say that compared with other countries Ireland is at an early stage of forming solid frameworks of associations and federations with which to link and to govern the sector.

The Tánaiste’s primary concern while carefully considering the Report’s recommendations was the most effective way to regulate this sector which still allows people freedom of choice but protects their safety. International experience is largely in favour of self regulation with some limited statutory regulation or registration being considered. Initially, her Department intends to support voluntary self regulation within the sector.

The Tánaiste complimented the Working Group in bringing together the wide range of people involved in the consultative forum and in reflecting their perspectives into a comprehensive but very accessible report. “I know that the Chair Ms. Teri Garvey was the driving force behind this project and I want to thank her both on my own behalf and on behalf of her colleagues on the Group” she said.

The Tánaiste also said that she would shortly be signing a Statutory Instrument which would implement the EU Directive on traditional herbal medicinal products. This was agreed at European level on 11 March 2004 and has been facilitated by the recent enactment of the Irish Medicines Board Act 2006. This Directive provides for a special legal framework for these products (herbal and homeopathic medicines for example) with a view to removing the differences and uncertainties about their status which currently exists in Member States and to further improve the protection of public health. The Irish Medicines Board will be involved in the regulation of these products. Manufacturers will have to satisfy the IMB that products meet quality standards, as for conventional pharmaceutical products, and are safe.

In line with the Tánaiste’s belief that information for consumers of complementary therapy services will play an important part in protecting public safety she also launched an information leaflet today. She had asked her Department to prepare the leaflet following her concern that patients who have a serious illness should be aware of the importance of consulting their doctor even if they are attending a complementary therapist. The leaflet will help people to choose wisely to safeguard their health and its key message is that if people have a condition which could need medical treatment they should visit their doctor first.

The leaflet will be circulated to General Practitioners, Complementary Therapists and Pharmacies.

Access the publications.