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Natural Health Products Are Not Drugs

Health Canada proposes serious changes to how NHPs are regulated

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Do you take vitamin C to kick a cold faster, supplement with vitamin D when sunshine is scarce, or pop probiotics to prep your immune system for winter? Health Canada is proposing new regulations that might make some of your favourite products disappear from store shelves.

This just in: Health Canada is proposing that many natural health products (NHPs) should be regulated with the same rules as drugs. We need your help to ensure the natural products we know and love remain readily available.

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What you need to know (about the current regulations)

Currently, Canada has one of the best frameworks in the world for regulating natural products, including everything from vitamins to herbal remedies. This robust framework is based on 53 recommendations from the Standing Committee on Health and months of consultations with consumer groups, government agencies, and international regulators.

Health Canada is required to approve all NHPs before they can be sold to consumers. In order to gain approval, NHP companies must provide evidence—often clinical trial data or references to published studies—to support any health claims they make.

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What you need to know (about the proposed regulations)

The proposed new regulations, which are based on just six weeks of consultation and a small survey of consumers, would treat some NHPs like drugs. It’s much more expensive to provide the evidence required to approve drugs (that’s why drugs are so much pricier than NHPs). So if this change goes through, it could limit your access to safe, effective, high-quality natural products, from multivitamins to echinacea.

The Canadian Health Food Association agrees: “This proposal is truly trying to fix a system that is not broken and will be a step backward instead of forward.” they wrote. “Our current regulations take into account the unique properties and low-risk nature of [natural] products.”

Basically—if it ain’t broke, why fix it?

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What you can do

The good news: it’s easy to let Health Canada know you’re not a fan of changing the current regulations. To help keep NHPs accessible, we need your help. Please head over to chfa.ca and fill out their #NHPsAreNotDrugs letter. It’ll take less than a minute, promise. And by doing so, you’ll help ensure that we all continue to have access to our favourite natural, eco-friendly, healthy products.

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