ESCOP: 30 years building a scientific consensus on herbal medicines
ESCOP, the European Scientific Cooperative on Phytotherapy, was founded in June 1989 as an umbrella organisation representing national herbal medicine or phytotherapy societies across Europe and to determine its role in discussions with European medicines regulators. In particular it produces reviews of the therapeutic use of leading herbal medicinal products or herbal drug preparations based on scientific evidence and on leading expertise across Europe.
Since 1996 it has been based in the United Kingdom as a company limited by guarantee and has the following non-profit
Aims and Objectives of ESCOP
- To advance the scientific status of herbal medicinal products and to assist with the harmonisation of their regulatory status at the European level.
- To promote the field of “phytotherapy” defined as:
- to develop a coordinated scientific framework to assess herbal medicinal products;
- to promote the acceptance of herbal medicinal products, especially within general medical practice;
- to support and initiate clinical and experimental research in phytotherapy;
- to improve and extend the international accumulation of scientific and practical knowledge in the field of phytotherapy;
- to support all appropriate measures that will secure optimum protection for those who use herbal medicinal products;
- to produce reference monographs on the therapeutic use of plant drugs;
- to further cooperation among national associations of phytotherapy to advance these Aims and Objectives.
- The publication from 1996 through to 2010 of 108 Herbal Monographs, as well as revisions, on the Medicinal Uses of Herbal Drugs. These have been formally submitted as leading consensus reviews of the evidence to the Herbal Medicinal Products Committee (HMPC) at the European Medicines Agency and have been used together with other sources by this committee to generate core monographs for European marketing authorisations.
- Since 2011 the continuous on-line publication of individual herbal monographs and revisions for immediate download at the ESCOP web page.
- The launch of a mobile device App, The ESCOP Herb Reference App, compiling information on more than 100 herbs and their use for lay people.
- The co-ordination and completion in 1996 of an EU BIOMED research programme in the area of phytotherapy – Determining European standards for the safe and effective use of phytomedicines.
- The organisation of seven International Symposia in Brussels (1990), Milan (1992), the Hague (1994), Cologne (1996 and 2009), London ( 1998), Bonn (2001).
- The co-organisation of joint Symposia with national societies of phytotherapy in Vienna (2012) and Winterthur (2014).
- The collaboration in the 1st and 3rd Ibero-American Congress of Phytotherapy held in Mexico and Brazil in 2006 and 2012, respectively.
ESCOP Constitution and Structure
The General Meeting of ESCOP
Members of ESCOP meet formally at Annual General Meetings (AGM’s) or Extraordinary General Meetings (EGM’s) as the ultimate decision-making forum of ESCOP. Among other roles the General Meeting has the following duties:
- to appoint Directors to the Board
- to consider and approve annual accounts of ESCOP Ltd
- to appoint accountants for the compilation and auditing of the accounts
- to amend and repeal company rules and procedures
Honorary Directors appointed from member associations of ESCOP at General Meetings, including a Chairman and Treasurer, plus a Company Secretary appointed by the Directors.
- to be responsible for the management of the ESCOP’s business, for which purpose they may exercise all the powers of the company, in compliance with UK Company law
- to execute all necessary activities between AGM’s as mandated by ESCOP Company members
- to coordinate the functions and activities of the Committees
- to represent ESCOP in external contacts
- to inform members at the AGM and of the Committees about developments within ESCOP and about its own activities in particular.
The Scientific Committees
ESCOP’s Scientific Committees comprise delegates from each member country of ESCOP as well as others as appropriate.
- to produce harmonised European Monographs on the Medicinal Uses of Plant Drugs on the basis of published information and taking account of the traditional use within European member states
- to set up as a referee panel a Board of Supervising Editors to finalise drafts of the monographs
- to submit comments on the draft documents of the Committee on Herbal Medicinal Products (HMPC) of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), and other relevant European documents.
Honorary Secretary is appointed as Company Secretary by the Board and supported by an employed Administrator and other staff as necessary.
- to be responsible for filing annual accounts under supervision of the treasurer, for maintaining statutory records and the registered office and summoning and formally administering Board and General Meetings
- to execute day-to-day correspondence and administrative work on behalf of ESCOP in agreement with the Board.
- to manage sales and supply of the ESCOP herbal monographs or any other ESCOP products and services, such as the ESCOP app.