Vitamin firms to lobby EU on doses

Trade and consumer groups in the vitamins and supplements market are to lobby the European Union on acceptable doses for their products.

The Proprietary Association of Great Britain, the trade body for OTC products and supplements that represents brands such as Sanatogen, is to intensify its PR and lobbying in the wake of this week's EU directive on the harmonisation of supplements dosage policy.

The organisation this week said it broadly welcomed the move towards harmonisation, but it is understood the body will continue to lobby the EU in a bid to ensure its members' interests prevail as decisions are made on acceptable doses.

Michael Baker, PAGB director of legal and regulatory affairs, said: 'Although they have reached a compromise, the challenge now turns to setting the maximum permitted levels.'

Under this week's directive, new controls on the levels of vitamins sold as food supplements will be agreed upon and implemented in EU member states.

They will be expected to adopt the directive into their national laws by 2004 unless it is rejected by the Council of Ministers.

A Consumers for Health Choice spokesman said it would be stepping up its lobbying of European politicians to ensure that patients have the choice to use safe high-dose products.

Consumer groups are pushing the EU to adopt the liberal safety-based limits in force in the UK and Holland and not the rules in Germany, France and Italy, where dosage is limited to the recommended daily allowance (RDA).

The directive will mean the European Scientific Committee for Foods and the European Food Standards Authority, which launches later this year, will be responsible for setting limits on the levels of vitamins and minerals that can be sold as foods rather than medicines.

It is these two bodies that are likely to be the focus of consumer groups and corporate lobbying campaigns.

Officially, all major manufacturers support the directive in general.

But it is understood many of the manufacturers are to lobby for higher doses than their continental counterparts advocate.

Since most vitamin firms focus on the UK and the US markets, groups fear that changes to dosage within the EU will force companies to change their production techniques, forcing up prices.

Meanwhile the Bureau Europeen des Unions de Consommateurs, the body that protects European consumers, is lobbying for even stricter rules on supplements.

It this week reiterated its demand for improved measures including mandatory notification to 'prevent misunderstanding as to the nature and effects of food supplements'.

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