Fluoride Action Network

Southampton: Hampshire campaigners say adding chemical is ‘illegal’

Source: Daily Echo | December 31st, 2009 | By Jon Reeve
Location: United Kingdom, England

CAMPAIGNERS have lodged a new bid to have fluoride banned from Southampton’s tap water because it is not licensed as a medicine.

Calls have been made for the body responsible for regulating health products to be censured for allegedly breaking the law by not testing the chemicals involved for safety.

Hampshire MEP Caroline Lucas and New Forest East MP Julian Lewis have both written to the parliamentary and health service ombudsman demanding an investigation.

If they succeed, it could mean fluoridation has to be halted across the country while the chemicals involved are thoroughly tested.

The move comes after the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) rejected calls from campaign group Hampshire Against Fluoridation (HAF) to examine whether fluoride needs to be treated in the same way as other medicines.

It believes drinking water is covered by different legislation and is not within its remit.

But the politicians have now urged the ombudsman to step in and order the body to ban fluoridation.

Medicinal European law says any substance “presented as having properties for treating or preventing disease” must be viewed as a medicinal product.

In February, South Central Strategic Health Authority backed plans to add fluoride to the water supplies of nearly 200,000 people living in parts of Southampton, Eastleigh, Totton, Netley and Rownhams.

Speaking ahead of the 2008 public consultation, the city’s director of public health, Andrew Mortimore said he was backing fluoride because it would cut tooth decay.

HAF chairman John Spottiswoode says because health bosses argued fluoridation is needed to improve dental health, they have admitted it is being used as a medicine.

Mr Spottiswoode says it is immoral and illegal to medicate anyone without consent.

He said: “We want the MHRA to obey EU and UK legislation, enforce testing to medicinal standards, plus licensing, of water fluoridation chemicals.

Until that is done all fluoridation in the UK should cease.”

An MHRA spokeswoman said the organisation was confident of its decision.

“The MHRA considers that neither the fluoride added to drinking water nor the resulting fluoridated water is a medicinal product,” she said.

“Claims made for non-medicinal products fall outside the MHRA’s jurisdiction.”