Natural Health Tips

Major Blow to Canadians' Access To Natural Health Products

Canadian users of natural health products (NHPs) are alarmed about Bill C-51, fearing it will remove more products they rely on from store shelves.

In 1997, the department proposed the Establishment Licensing Act to regulate natural products as drugs. In one of the largest protests of all time, many Canadians made it resoundingly clear they did not want this. The issue went to the Standing Committee on health, which firmly established that the approval model used for pharmaceuticals could not be fairly applied to NHPs.

Accordingly, the committee's first of 53 accepted recommendations to Parliament was that the Food and Drugs Act be amended to provide NHPs with a category separate from either foods or drugs. Health Canada then consulted Canadians from coast to coast, and announced that, by far, their No. 1 desire was to have increased access to more NHPs. Yet, against the wishes of public and Parliament, health Canada classified NHPs as drugs anyway, and in 2004 the natural health Product Regulations started.

Since then, more than 20,000 products -- mostly U.S. imports -- have been withdrawn from Canada. Their producers were either not willing to spend the money to license each product, or submitted their applications but gave up in frustration with shipments being stopped at the border ...

Now the industry is faced with Bill C-51.

In it, regulatory distinctions between natural products and pharmaceuticals are to be blurred as they are treated equally under the umbrella term "therapeutic product," despite their radically different safety profiles.

The bill provides health Canada inspectors with vast powers to remove products at their own discretion, without court supervision or any legal accountability. Inspectors don't need a search warrant, or even a reason for a seizure, and they can hold seized products for any amount of time.

... In fact, the bill provides health Canada with more power to seize vitamins than our police have to seize street drugs like cocaine. And with no legal recourse provided for these companies, such seizures would occur beyond the law.

These measures are now being implemented in Europe via the Codex Alimentarius. The aim is to limit access to natural health foods by bringing them under the same regulations as pharmaceutical drugs. Despite the fact that not one single person has ever died from natural health products, the claim is that this regulation is necessary to protect the health of consumers.

Source: Edmonton Journal