Petition intensifies alternative medicine debate

What will the future hold for complementary medicines in Switzerland? Keystone Archive

The Action Committee for Folk Medicine, (ApV), has presented a petition to the Swiss government calling on them to continue including alternative remedies in the new medicine laws which come into effect on July 1.

This content was published on June 12, 2001 minutes

Moritz Aebersold, a member of the committee, presented the document, signed by 287,826 people, to Thomas Zeltner, the director of the Federal Health Office.

The petition calls for alternative medicines, such as homeopathic remedies, to be given the same recognition as more traditional drugs in order to maintain a "healthy" variety of medicines in Switzerland.

The petition was signed by many different health-care professionals including doctors, pharmacy owners and naturopaths as well as medical insurers.

According to Dorle Vallender, a parliamentarian for the Radical Party, the large number of signatures proves just how important complementary medicine is to the Swiss population.

The petition is specifically calling for a more simplified way to register alternative remedies and a reworking of the critical guidelines the government has laid down for their prescription.

According to Zeltner, the Federal Health Office had to work very quickly to write the guidelines and admits they are not the best blueprint ever issued.

He concedes that many passages can be easily misinterpreted and that the document contains errors. They will therefore be revised.

The current guidelines state that alternative remedies must be registered across the whole of Switzerland and not just from canton to canton. The ApV argues that this is too expensive for small-scale manufacturers of the natural medicines.

Zeltner said the purpose of the guidelines was not to make natural remedies prohibitively expensive to register.

He was also quick to point out that Switzerland was far more open-minded when it comes to alternative medicines than other industrialised nations.

swissinfo with agencies

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