Most of the homeopathic medicines sold in the UK are made by a small number of specialist pharmacies. These are classified as unlicensed medicines and are prepared in accordance with the standards of official homeopathic pharmacopoeia, which describe the manufacturing procedure and provide assurances of safety and quality.
Homeopathic pharmacies are regulated by the General Pharmacy Council. The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) also operates a system to register and license medicines for retail sale.
A relatively limited range of the more commonly used homeopathic medicines, such as Arnica, Natrum Muriaticum and Sulphur, are ‘licensed’ and may be purchased over the counter. These are available mostly in 6c or 30c potencies and may be bought in chemists, health food shops and clinics.
A few of the licensed products contain a combination of ingredients, with specific indications for their use, such as Nelsons’ Pollenna, which contains Allium Cepa, Euphrasia and Sabadilla and is indicated for the relief of symptoms associated with hay fever and similar allergies.
While they are prepared to quality standards, the majority of homeopathic medicines are ‘unlicensed’. The MHRA regulates the manufacture of unlicensed medicines supplied to doctors and pharmacies. The supply of medicines to homeopaths and the general public comes under the remit of the General Pharmacy Council. The main manufacturers in the UK are also pharmacies and pharmacists may legally supply unlicensed remedies to individual patients. These medicines may be ordered either by telephone or through the internet, or by going to the pharmacy in person.
The main homeopathic pharmacies in the UK are:
Ainsworths – 020 7935 5330 – www.ainsworths.com
Freemans – 0141 644 1165 – www.freemans.uk.com
Helios – 01892 537254 – www.helios.co.uk
Nelsons – 020 7629 3118 – www.nelsonspharmacy.com
Weleda – 0115 944 8222 – www.weleda.co.uk
Remedies from overseas
The majority of medicines can be sourced in the UK from one of the established pharmacies. However, patients may occasionally seek to purchase medicines from pharmacies outside the UK, for example if they are on holiday and need a remedy. In such situations, to ensure that the remedies are of good quality, it is advisable to check that the pharmacy is regulated by the relevant medicines agency in that country.
Importing homeopathic medicines from within the European Union comes within the ‘free movement of goods’, established in 1993 as one of the freedoms of the single market. However, medicines imported from outside the EU could be subject to confiscation by customs, unless they are for personal use.