Saturday, March 14, 2015

How Does Health Canada License Natural Health Products?

This CBC Marketplace story reveals that Health Canada's review process for natural health product applications is scientifically insufficient. A Health Canada license implies scientific credibility and I am very concerned that natural drug company claims can deceive consumers. Over-the-counter natural health products should undergo the same review process as pharmaceuticals.

Health Canada has responded to the story, but this leaves me with more questions than answers.
"When a product's labelling is not in compliance with what has been approved, Health Canada takes the necessary steps to address the situation. 
With respect to Nighton's (Marketplace's made-up product) ingredients, they are found within recognised sources of evidence for homeopathic products."
What are these sources Health Canada is referring to and why are they recognized? The scientific community has long discredited homeopathy as quackery. As Dr. Steven Novella writes in his blog Neurologica, the efficacy of this alternative medicine has been thoroughly studied and remains unproven.

Without an investigative story such as CBC Marketplace's or critical thinking and science literacy, many consumers will perceive a Health Canada natural health product license as evidence of efficacy and will take the labels on these products at face value. Canadian consumers should be able to trust that the health products on the shelf are effective, backed by science and labeled appropriately.

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