§ Dr. Murrison
To ask the Secretary of State for Health how many deaths occurred in each of the past five years as a result of the use of traditional or herbal remedies. 
§ Ms Blears
It is not possible reliably to estimate the number of deaths attributable to the use of traditional or herbal remedies.
The yellow card scheme provides for voluntary reporting of suspected adverse drug reactions by doctors, dentists, coroners and pharmacists. It was extended to include all herbal products in October 1996.
The table provides details of the number of reports received each year since 1997 in relation to herbal products as well as the number of reports with a fatal outcome.
Year received Total number of report Number with a fatal outcome 1997 46 0 1998 40 0 1999 64 0 2000 139 1 2001 74 1 2002 to date 31 2
A report of a suspected reaction does not necessarily mean that it was caused by the medicine. As the scheme is voluntary, not all adverse reactions are reported.
It is generally recognised that the reporting rate for medicines supplied over the counter is lower than for prescription medicines. Therefore, data obtained on suspected adverse reactions associated with herbal medicines through the yellow card scheme, cannot be directly compared to reporting for licensed pharmaceutical medicines. With herbal medicines in particular, consumers often do not tell their general practitioner or pharmacist that they are taking a herbal remedy.