Towards more effective supplement regulation in Canada

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Posted 26 September 2016

Currently, natural health products are regulated in a manner similar to drugs – manufacturers must apply to Health Canada for a licence to sell and products are assigned a unique number that must appear on product labels to signal the department’s approval. But unlike drugs makers, natural health product manufacturers are not required to provide robust evidence that a product works before it’s allowed on the market.

Under the proposed new system Health Canada would bring natural health products, over-the-counter drugs and cosmetics under one set of rules and regulate them based on the potential health risks they pose.

The new regime would classify many vitamin, mineral and homeopathic products and cosmetics as “low risk,” meaning they would not be licensed by Health Canada. Manufacturers would still have to meet Health Canada’s quality standards, but they would be prohibited from making disease treatment or prevention claims on product labels. Any other claims on product labels would have to be accompanied by a disclaimer stating the information has not been verified by Health Canada.

Products deemed “moderate” or “higher” risk – such as over-the-counter painkillers, allergy medications and products that contain new medicinal ingredients – would be reviewed by Health Canada and could only make health claims if enough scientific evidence is presented to prove the statements. [Health Canada to change standards for natural health products, by Carly Weeks in the Globe and Mail]

Read Scott Gavura’s perspective at Science-Based Pharmacy

Read  Carly Weeks perspective in the Globe and Mail

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