November 14, 2011
No Double Standards For Natural Health Products
Natural health products and medicinal foods should be subject to the same regulations as pharmaceutical drugs to ensure safety and efficacy, states an editorial in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) (pre-embargo link only) http://www.cmaj.ca/site/embargo/cmaj111739.pdf.
While pharmaceutical drugs are subject to rigorous evaluation and must provide significant evidence of their therapeutic effects and that the benefits outweigh risks, natural health products in Canada are not. Many contain active pharmacological substances that can have potent effects and interactions which should have warnings.
Health Canada created the Natural Health Products Directorate 10 years ago, but the regulatory framework that governs it does not protect the consumer.
"All health claims for any product should be subject to a common set of regulations, starting with consistent and easily understood standards of evidence proportional to health risks and benefits," conclude the authors.
"Uniform regulations are the best way to protect consumers while still allowing choice."
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