Herbal Medications and the FDA

Many Pharmacy Technicians have questions about herbal supplements. We know that there are drug interactions with herbal medications. But what is the FDA’s role when it comes to herbal supplements? We first need to look at what exactly is herbal supplements and how are they used.

What are herbal supplements?

Herbal supplements are products made from plants for use in the treatment and management of disease and certain medical conditions. While we have many prescription medications that are also made from plant derivatives, those products are made with purified ingredients so they must be regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Herbal supplements are made and contain the entire plant or plant arts, so they are really considered food and not a medication or drug. Herbal medications are not subject to the same regulations as traditional medications.

There are many dosage forms of herbal supplements.You can take an herbal supplement in the form of a tea, a liquid, a powder and even a pill form.

The Latest Drugs Approved by the FDA

Mankena (generic: hydroxyprogesterone caproate)
Indication: to reduce the risk of preterm delivery before 37 weeks of pregnancy, in pregnant women with a history of at least one spontaneous preterm birth.
Contraindication: not intended to be used in women with a multiple pregnancy.
Drug Classification: Progestin

Gralise (generic: gabapentin)
Indication: once-daily treatment of post-herpetic neuralgia (PHN), which is pain following healing of the rash associated with shingles.
Contraindication: Do not take Gralise if you are allergic to gabapentin or any of the ingredients in Gralise.
Drug Classification: antiseizure (anticonvulsive)

*Check FDA.gov for additional information on these medications

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