Manufacturers of homeopathic and anthroposophic medicinal products use a wide diversity of natural starting materials. The materials are mainly fresh and dried plants, minerals, chemical substances (salts and metals) or animal materials
The larger manufacturers may have as many as 1,500-2,000 starting materials. The companies with the widest range of products process over 4,000 different starting materials, so as to ensure the full range of products required for the proper practice of the therapies. Many of the small or medium-sized companies have around 700-800 different starting materials and even the smaller companies or those with a limited range have between 100-200 different starting materials.
For the majority of ECHAMP members, more than 50% of starting materials are of botanical origin; for some companies, this number can be as high as 80-90%.
Suppliers of raw materials
In many cases, this wide variety of starting materials is sourced from multiple suppliers to ensure stability of production. The larger companies can have over 100 different suppliers, up to as many as 350 different suppliers. Even the smaller companies or those with limited ranges can have 20 or more different suppliers. In view of the high number of starting materials, flexibility of the choice of suppliers is essential to guarantee availability.
The companies maintain quality documentation for each different starting material.
The quality of the raw material is guaranteed by a routine evaluation, that takes account of all the information from the harvesting protocol or certificate of origin, the analytical controls to show conformity with the release specification and, if required, additional risk-based considerations and tests. In that way, independently from the supplier, the companies ensure that the starting material is of consistently good quality.
ECHAMP supports the practice of manufacturers of homeopathic medicinal products not to fix suppliers of certain raw materials in registration dossiers for these products. This is not practical, feasible or desirable from a scientific or regulatory perspective as flexibility of supplier is essential to guarantee quality and availability of these products.
In order to guarantee the quality and availability of the high number of different botanical starting materials, many of which are needed in small amounts only, one third of surveyed manufacturers have developed their own medicinal gardens. About 30% of ECHAMP member companies who do not yet have a medicinal garden express an interest in having one in the future.