Supplements in Canada under Attack

December 6, 2016
Category: Reform Healthcare

Health Canada (Canada’s equivalent of the US Department of Health and Human Services) is proposing a new set of regulations for natural health products. If that sounds ominous, it is. Action Alert!
The proposal would lump “low-risk” natural health products, over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, and cosmetics together. These products would be prevented from making any disease treatment or prevention claims on their labels. Currently, for example, a company selling curcumin can list the health benefits of curcumin for inflammation. Under the new rules, the label couldn’t have any information other than that the product is called curcumin.
In the US, at least, the bottle of curcumin might be able to mention some health benefits, so long as it does not refer to any specific disease. “Heart healthy” or “brain healthy,” for example, would be OK, while “prevents heart disease” or “reverses dementia” would not. Canada would not even allow “heart or brain healthy.”
Natural health products considered “high” or “moderate” risk—such as OTC painkillers or new medicinal ingredients—would be reviewed by Health Canada and could only make claims if enough scientific evidence is provided. We know how that works—enough is never enough for regulators in bed with Big Pharma!
Currently, Canadian regulations allow these products to make certain health claims based on different kinds of evidence. This includes clinical studies, but also histories of use in traditional medicine. Under the new proposal, pharmaceutical-style evidence would be required. As we have explained before, supplements are not suitable for drug studies for many reasons, including the fact that supplement use depends on the patient’s nutritional status, and that dietary co-factors are usually involved.
Health Canada is no doubt doing this in concert with the US Food and Drug Administration. We’ve been telling you about the FDA’s massive attack on supplements through its new supplement guidance. If the FDA is allowed to continue tightening its control over supplements by forcing pre-approval as with drugs, we will eventually have few supplements, and the ones that remain will have little therapeutic value.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also apparently been enlisted by the FDA to limit the information consumers can have about natural health products. In the POM Wonderful case, the FTC attempted to force natural product companies to pay for two random-controlled trials (RCTs)—a drug standard—before they can make certain health claims. This was ruled unconstitutional, but the court said that requiring one RCT might be OK. The cost of such a study is not usually feasible for natural (and therefore not patentable) substances.
Action Alert! If you haven’t done so already, write to the FDA and tell them to abandon their New Dietary Ingredient (NDI) guidance. (The NDI guidance is the pre-approval process we mentioned). Please send your message immediately.
Other articles in this week’s Pulse of Natural Health:
Fewer Same-Day Vaccines—at an Older Age, Says Study
Walmart Bans Formaldehyde
Are We Being Lied to about Vaccine Efficacy?
Will the “Father” of Monsanto’s GMO Business  Lead the State Department?

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3 responses to “Supplements in Canada under Attack”

  1. Kathy says:

    Why should supplements be able to make health claims they cannot support? Many supplements are sold by large pharmaceutical companies. The supplement industry in the USA is a $37 billion a year industry. Clearly, they have the money to pay for safety and efficacy testing, just like real pharmaceuticals do. Maybe you have not read the plethora of articles about how many supplements and natural health items don’t even have the ingredients in them promised? Aloe vera products that have zero aloe. Chinese herbal medicines tainted by endangered species ingredients. Herbal remedies promising 100% purity that are, in fact, not 100% the promised herb?

    • Tookl says:

      “real pharmaceuticals” against herbs which have been used thousands of years? Newsflash: FDA does not guarantee safety of pharmaceuticals. Learn the law before you spout nonsense. High quality herb companies are not to be feared. It is always the consumer’s job to make informed decisions be they ‘real pharmaceuticals’ or herbs. Leave the decision to the consumer.

      • Kathy says:

        Newsflash. Most pharmaceuticals are made from herbs that have been used for thousands of years. But, they have dose perfected and they took out extraneous ingredients. So, instead of chewing on willow bark, you can use aspirin. Instead of eating moldy cheese, you can take antibiotics. There is no way to know what is a high quality herb company or not since there is no oversight. Which is the point. If herbals are so great, they should not fear oversight and regulation.

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