Author: Dr. Michelle Durkin on 21 October 2016
How would you feel if all of a sudden you didn’t have access to the supplements that made you well?
Well, that is now within the realm of possibility.
Health Canada has proposed a new regulatory framework for natural health products.
Health Canada recently came out with a surprise announcement that in effect they want to blow up the current supplement (“Natural Health Product) regulations in Canada and replace them with a new system. Under the new system, no health claims will be allowed to be made for supplements unless they go through pharmaceutical style double blind placebo clinical trials. Health Canada knows that to do a full clinical trial costs about $20 million, so basically what their proposal would mean is that in the future no supplements would be allowed to be sold in Canada and make health claims.
Considering the Natural Health Product Regulations have been in effect since 2004, and our industry has spent the past 12 years and tens of millions of dollars complying with these regulations. After 12 years of these regulations Health Canada gave the industry only a 45 day notice period to respond to this proposal.
There has been a battle in Canada for 20 year over how best to regulate supplements.
In the late 1990s, the Liberal government of the time, with Alan Rock as Health Minister, proposed that all vitamins, herbs, probiotics, omegas and other supplements should be regulated as drugs. There was a huge consumer backlash and the government backed down. Alan Rock even went to the Big Carrot Market in Toronto to make his announcement that they would not proceed with that plan and instead he would ask the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health to study the question and consult the public.
The Standing Committee on Health spent the better part of a year consulting Canadians from coast to coast and came back with 53 recommendations on how to regulate supplements. It called for NHPs to be recognized as a separate class of goods from Foods and Drugs. It called for NHPs to be able to make health claims. It called for safe and effective NHPs that are made following GMP (Good Manufacturing Practices). And it called for a variety of evidence to be allowable to make NHP claims, not just pharmaceutical style drug trials.
Of particular note are the following in sections 1, 19 and 21:
The will of Parliament and the Canadian people is very clear, and yet Health Canada, after 12 years of developing reasonable regulations that are now considered to be the gold standard around the world for how to regulate supplements, want to blow up the system and abolish health claims on supplements.
Now may be your only chance to speak up to oppose these changes and ensure access to safe and effective natural health products.
What can you do?
Please write to your Member of Parliament and let them know that this is not acceptable.
The CHFA has a very easy tool on the CHFA website where you just click to send the letter, enter your postal code, and the letter will be sent to your MP automatically.
Please help share this message with your family and friends and on social media. I have put a link on our Facebook page as well.
We live in a democracy and the Members of Parliament listen to the public, but only if we speak out. Please exercise your power as a voter and make a difference by sharing your voice on this issue.
Here is a link to a concise article from Alive Magazine on the issue:
Thank-you to Joanne’s Place in Peterborough for the original content of this post and to J.S., a QNC patient who felt it was important for me to share with my mailing list.
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