Health authorities in Germany are urging the public to stop using herbal remedies and herbal medicines to treat chronic pain and the common cold.
The decision comes as German authorities have cracked down on prescription-drugmakers and manufacturers, who were accused of illegally selling over-the-counter remedies, and are seeking to curb their sales and tax incentives.
The government said it is working to make it easier for the public not to use herbal remedies, but only to purchase them directly from herbal manufacturers.
It also wants to allow people to take herbal products at home, if they have to.
The government said that it will consult with the European Medicines Agency on whether it needs to make changes to its laws.
The Bundesministerium for Health (BMB) said that herbal medicines were not the only alternative to opioids for people who suffer from pain.
“Pain is the result of a lot of factors,” said Maria Kallenberg, spokeswoman for the BMB, referring to pain-related conditions.
“The problem with pain is not the physical pain itself, but the psychological pain that comes with the underlying physical symptoms.”
Health authorities have also said that the introduction of herbal medicines would not help solve the chronic health crisis in Germany.
The BMB said it would continue to work on measures to ensure the safety of all herbal medicines, including herbal products that are not regulated by the German Food and Drug Administration (Bundesmedizin für Medicin) and which are not intended to be used to treat pain.
The ministry will issue guidance on how to use them to the manufacturers, which are currently not required to register with the BMA, she said.
The Bavarian government also has been criticized for not cracking down on the pharmaceutical industry.
Bayer, the world’s largest maker of painkillers, has been selling products under the brand name “Nördliches Pharma” to patients for years, according to a German newspaper.
The newspaper, Der Spiegel, reported that Bayer was able to make money through the sale of “Nordicos” – a product that is marketed to treat certain conditions, such as osteoarthritis – that are also widely available in Germany, including as an over-prescription drug.
In September, Bayer was fined €15.6 million ($19.7 million) by the BBA for illegally marketing the painkiller “Nollemann” to a small number of patients, including children.