As of April 2010, all natural health products will need an NPN, natural product number, to be sold.
Natural Health Products: 53 Recommendations of the Standing Committee on Health
NHPs (Natural Health Products) are defined in the Regulations to include:
- traditional medicines
- homeopathic medicines
- vitamins and minerals
- herbal remedies
- amino acids
- plant isolates
- essential fatty acids (like Omega-3)
- prescription drugs
- drugs administered by puncturing the skin
- substances that are regulated by the Tobacco Act or the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
New Brunswick pharmacist John Staples says it's "crazy" for Health Canada to apply the same standards to both pharmaceuticals and natural health products.
"Pharmaceutical drugs are far more potent and just a slight deviation in dosage can be dangerous," said Staples, whose Moncton pharmacy Staples Drugs, has sold both types of drugs for 40 years.Health Canada is not allowing any "may" claims. For instance, a label cannot say the product "may" do something. In Health Canada's eyes, it either has an effect or not.
"A doctor can prescribe the arthritis drug Celebrex for you, but it can also cause a heart attack," he said as an example. "With homeopathic drugs, you can take 10 times the dosage and there's no problem."
Just over 36 per cent of natural health products were rejected for licensing.
The primary mandate of Codex is to develop food standards for the protection of the health of consumers and to ensure fair practices in food trade. The standards, guidelines and related texts developed by Codex are intended for voluntary use by governments.
Health Canada's official position on the adoption of Codex guidelines.
The manufacture, importation and sale of vitamin and mineral supplements and other natural health products in Canada will not be affected by the Commission's adoption of the Guidelines. (of Codex Alimentarius)
Codex will essentially be treating all nutrients as toxins until they are licensed. Therefore, only what is expressly allowed under Codex Alimentarius will be permitted, and everything else is forbidden.
Although Canada is proclaiming that the strict Codex guidelines will not be adopted fully in Canada...
Section 1.3 of the Guidelines stipulates that they are for use only in those countries that regulate vitamin and mineral supplements as food. As Canada regulates vitamin and mineral supplements as natural health products, the Guidelines are not applicable to the Canadian regulatory system. The manufacture, importation and sale of vitamin and mineral supplements and other natural health products in Canada will not be affected by the Commission's adoption of the Guidelines. Such products will continue to be regulated in Canada by the Natural Health Products Regulations under the Canadian Food and Drugs Act.
I doubt that the decision makers in Canada will want to be on the losing end of a trade dispute when the rules with the World Trade Organization state: When disputes arise and countries are pulled in to WTO, the one that is Codex compliant automatically wins, regardless of the merits of its case.
To support the cause to save our NHP in Canada, visit http://www.saveournaturalhealthproducts.ca/.
Footnote: The European Union's Food Supplements Directive, by the way, will go into full effect in Europe on December 31, 2009