Drugs vs food supplements and cosmetics: sometimes a thin line

It is generally assumed that regulations affecting medicines are more stringent than those concerning food supplements and cosmetic products.

Hence, calls are routinely made to apply to more products the legislations of medicines. Some EU Member States profess that several products shold be classified as drugs to protect consumers.

The reality is mixed. The legal standard for efficacy of herbal drugs is currently lower than for food supplements. Advertising of medicines is sometimes more questionable than for cosmetics products. It seems that classification, at least for the less potent products, has little to do with the interest of consumers and that the categories are incresingly indistinguishable.

It is important to remember that the European Court of Justice has clalrified on multiple occasions that the same product can be classified as a drug in a Member State and as a food supplement in another. This means that before commecialization in a Member State an in depth assessment must be made.

The Cosmetic Products Unit

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