Bills C-51, C-52, 517: GE Labeling
C-51 Policy Statement - Canadian Natural Health Coalition
"These bureaucrats are comfortably indifferent to the tens of thousands of Canadians annually who die or suffer adverse effects from the legal drugs they so blithely permit. Almost every day Canadians are informed of studies or reports that find some approved prescription drug or another doesn’t work or causes serious adverse effects. About these things Health Canada does nothing. The hypocrisy of Health Canada on product safety is obscene."
Indeed we are to take it that Health Canada is here to protect us! If killing so many people is their idea of the efficacy of regulation then why in their warped mind regulating innocuous products, that are even safer than foods, should be as important as drugs??? With friends like these who needs enemies?
If this is how regulation works then who need it?
"People would not be turning to non-drug and "non-standard" health solutions -- if the essentially-free, publicly-insured "proper medical care" really worked. It's because of the medical system's failure to cure "chronic" disease and the massive adverse reactions and deaths that Canadians are voting with their pocketbooks for other approaches."
Extracted form: Bills C-51 & C-52 Example letters ">Bills C-51 & C-52 Example letters
From the above, obviously many find Natural Health Products (NHP) efficacious and safe all without the proposed regulations already, so why such a "tempest in teapot"? Is it because NHP cut into the cash cow disease management, palliative and generally toxic drug monopoly?
Here is an excellent statement on the standing of the Canadian Natural Health Coalition (CNHC). This along with C-51 The Real Facts Vs the Bull From Health Canada should provide a crystal clear picture on Health Canada's real agenda. All in the name of safety of course.
For those in Toronto and area a panel discussion with Helke Ferrie, Shawn Buckley and Shiv Chopra is scheduled for June 26, 2008 and is a must attend. Details are here. Others will be able to see live streamed on www.cnhc.ca
This post along with its links contains enough fodder for all to respond to their MPs' party line response on the self serving need for these bills.
The CNHC statement follows - much embellished of course!
Policy Statement on the Standing of the Canadian Natural Health Coalition (unembellished original is here)
Bill C-51 presents a direct threat to the rights of Canadians to access safe, effective and low-cost natural health products (NHPs). This proposal would reverse the regulatory reforms that Canadians campaigned for and Parliament approved.
This legislation is just the latest assault by Health Canada (HC) intended to restrict the freedom Canadians have to choose NHPs for their health and well-being. If passed, Bill C-51 would give enormous powers to HC. It is certain that these will be used to strangle and marginalize NHPs.
Bill C-51 does not directly impose sanctions on the availability to the public of natural health products. Instead, it would confer on Health Canada the power to impose sanctions later, at their discretion, one piece at a time, when the opportunity is ripe. Health Canada has always been hostile to natural health products. Bill C-51 will provide them with the weaponry to complete the job.
Apologists for Bill C-51 try to deflect public concerns about its grim provisions by claiming “it is not the intention” of the bill or its advocates that it will be used to suppress natural health products. Canadians are being asked to trust these soothing assurances about Bill C-51’s “intentions”. We have heard this all before.
THE GOOD ‘INTENTIONS’ BEHIND BILL C-51
It was the “intention” of Parliament that Health Canada would implement its approval, in March 1999, of the Standing Committee on Health’s (SCOH) report, Natural Health Products: A New Vision which featured 53 specific Recommendations. This was the culmination of a large-scale public campaign to ensure better access to NHPs through major regulatory reform. Despite Health Canada’s bitter resistance Parliament agreed with the public and approved a significant package of reforms.
These mandated reforms have not been carried out. Would someone in the government and Parliament account for this situation? Despite the combination of public support and Parliament’s intentions”, Health Canada has insubordinately refused to implement them. Parliaments pass legislation and governments give orders but the record shows HC pursues its own agenda which is vindictively hostile to natural health. Who is running the show?
We don’t doubt the good-faith of MPs professed intentions. We just see that they can’t deliver the goods. If the intentions of Parliament carried any weight we wouldn’t have to have this fight again. Parliament and the government have lost control over the management at HC.
We say: Health Canada is a rogue agency. Canadians are confronted with a breakdown of good governance and accountability over this department.
This is the public’s health care system. We own it. Parliament is our trustee. More Canadians than ever favour natural health. We say to our politicians:
We are not going away. The current regime at Health Canada must go away.
We will fight until we see the public interest on natural health respected in policy and practice. We are tired of the tail wagging the dog and we want this fixed – permanently.
The Canadian Natural Health Coalition (CNHC) calls on Parliament and the government to re-assert proper management and oversight of Health Canada. We call for a thorough house-cleaning and reform of that agency which we have lost confidence in and respect for. We call for a Regime Change at Health Canada.
After which, the public may again have confidence in the intentions of its legislators.
HOW BILL C-51 WILL HURT CANADIANS
Canadians won the right to have natural health products formally confirmed as a third independent category within the current legislation on a peer basis with the existing categories – Foods and Drugs. This has not happened. Health Canada has obstructed every legislative opportunity to carry our Parliament’s instructions.
Canadians won the right to have natural health products formally confirmed as a third category within the current legislation on a peer basis with the other legal categories - Foods and Drugs.
This has not happened. HC has obstructed every legislative opportunity to carry out its duty to have made this so. Instead, we have been fobbed off with a mere third directorate - the Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD). This directorate is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Therapeutics Product Programme (TPP) aka the Drugs Directorate - re-branded. NHPs remain as drugs under the current system.
Bill C-51 proposes to re-define the definition of ‘drug’ into the nebulous concept of “Therapeutic Products”. The entire reason for this is initiative is to construct a categorical umbrella wide enough to embrace the upstart NHPs so their rapid growth can be contained. Health Canada is wasting taxpayer’s money and abusing the public trust by pursuing this unauthorized vendetta against natural health products.
If Bill C-51 is passed, Health Canada’s plans are transparent. Health Canada officials have been bruiting their intentions throughout the natural health products industry. With the NHPD under its thumb a new Natural Products Directorate (NPD) will be positioned jurisdictionally between the Drugs Directorate and the NHPD. This new NPD will regulate all ‘natural’ ingredients and products that are held to have ‘therapeutic potential’.
Since in HC dogma only drugs can deliver therapeutic benefits ipso facto any substance with therapeutic potential is automatically designated as a drug, even if the substance is demonstrably not a drug as in the case of an NHP.
Health Canada simply refuses to acknowledge that Natural Health Products are qualitatively distinct from pharmaceutical drugs. They refuse to evaluate NHPs according to their intrinsic properties.
We – the Canadian public and our members of Parliament – are being forced to fight over the same ground we already decided on. Health Canada’s insistence that Natural Health Products be forced through the Procrustean Bed of pharmaceutical criteria is scientifically and clinically without basis, is contrary to the public interest, and provides plain sight evidence of their disloyalty as a public agency.
Thanks to Bill C-51, Health Canada will be able to strip the NHPD of jurisdiction over most of its ingredients and products vesting these products under the Natural Products Directorate, including the majority of NHPD applicants who are facing final disallowance. Therefore, the NHPD will be left with authority over wheat germ and alfalfa tablets.
Since Natural Products are deemed to be capable of ‘therapeutic potential’ (i.e. can do something useful) ex-NHPD ingredients will now be subject to pharmaceutical-type evaluation under the NPD. Since these substances are not drugs to begin with these products will not be approved. The current tsunami of unapproved NHPD applications will soon manifest as failed NHPs and be forced off the market.
Thanks to Bill C-51, Health Canada will be able to move the goalposts anywhere it likes. The standards of evidence, the burden of proof, the review process, the reviewers, enforcement, investigation - everything can be moved around and manipulated at Health Canada’s enhanced discretion. These powers have always been abused. Health Canada gets to make the rules, hires ringers’ as reviewers and then uses selected enforcement to punish or reward. The whole system is stage managed to ‘appear’ as formally correct but in practice it is rotten and corrupt. Bill C-51 will make sure that the regulation of natural ingredients by Health Canada will become just as debased as they have become for pharmaceutical medicaments what with the endemic payoffs, conflicts of interest, corruption, malpractice, bad ethics and outright lying that characterizes that field. And thanks to Bill C-51, Health Canada will have the means to subject Canadians to the additional restrictions against natural health products that derive from the Codex Alimentarius.
What few products are allowed by the NPD must perforce have their public access restricted as all therapeutic’ products -‘drugs’ - are deemed to have the potential to cause harm. Under this new regime, they simply cannot be sold openly like Natural Health Products.
Thanks to Bill C-51, Health Canada will be able to require that ‘therapeutic’
Natural Products be accessible only on the prescription of a licensed
practitioner as each province variably defines that. What a nightmare
of enforcement problems that will set off compounding this is the well
established fact that physicians generally have no training or competence in the
use of natural health products while other well trained practitioners are not
licensed. Such products of course, must be ‘dispensed’ from controlled
facilities known as pharmacies.
Health Canada aims to choke off product availability of NHPs to Canadians. These actions will force a person living in Quebec who now routinely buys an NHP locally to travel to Ontario and engage the services of a licensed Naturopathic physician (ND) since the Province of Quebec does not recognize Naturopaths. That ND could write a prescription for the desired product ONLY if it remained available for sale on the Short List of the NPD. Also, the poor patient would have to find a drug store that even knew what the product was.
The whole point of what Health Canada is doing is place as many obstacles as possible in the way of consumers trying to access Natural Health Products just as they have rigged the system to frustrate suppliers who want to develop and market products.
This scenario is not speculative, it is pending. Health Canada personnel are already bragging about it. Our tax dollars at work.
With Bill C-51, Health Canada is working to restrain the rapid growth of the Natural Health Products sector. As far as Health Canada is concerned too many Canadians are using too many NHPs for therapeutic purposes. We are getting out of control and must be forced back into line “for our own good”.
HEALTH CANADA : ECONOMIC SABOTEUR
Health Canada’s campaign against NHPs directly harms the economic welfare of the large number of Canadians whose livelihood is invested in this growing business sector. There a lot of jobs at stake. Growers, manufacturers, distributors, retailers, health professionals and researchers all will suffer if Health Canada’s repressive desires take force. The regulatory chill and hostility that Health Canada directs towards natural health – something which is widely known - will confine Canada in the backwaters of a high-growth international industry.
Of course, the well-paid and tenured HC bureaucracy could not care less about other people’s jobs, businesses, practices or investments. Members of Parliament must take cognisance of this. They must be supporting the development of a healthy NHP industry which is rich in entrepreneurial vitality instead of allowing Health Canada to strangle it.
We say: Stop Health Canada from destroying a Healthy industry.
The greatest crisis facing Canadians in our health care system is the growing tension between constantly rising costs and declining outcomes. When Canadians use natural health products they ease the burden on the health care system. This deserves to be recognized by our Members of Parliament.
NHPs have the best safety record of all classes of medicaments. If pharmaceutical drugs were held to the same safety standard as Natural Health Products, there would be very few of them left. Health Canada’s reckless actions will directly result in the development of an underground market for Natural Health Products. We can look forward to grandmothers being busted by HC brownshirts for possession of carnitine. Popular U.S., Japanese or European products that Health Canada refuses to approve will nevertheless find their way to market on a large scale. This is very bad public policy in the making.
To our Members of Parliament: with costs of adverse effects from prescription drug use going through the roof, how do you justify sanctioning the expense of Health Canada’s large-scale campaign against ultra-safe NHPs?
NHPs are clinically effective; their preventative properties benefit consumers and this reduces the demand on high priced taxpayer-funded conventional medicine. They are largely used by people who have actively taken control of their health.
Why is it not public policy to support such tendencies? Dollar against dollar, measure against measure – benefits, adverse effects, compliance - NHPs deliver a better return on investment than drugs. It should be the case that the widest possible use of NHPs is formally promoted.
HEALTH CANADA’S PHONY ‘CONTAMINATION’ CAMPAIGN
Health Canada claims they need the stern enforcement powers of Bill C-51 because the public needs to be protected from “contaminated” NHPs. A clearer example of the culture of lying and deceit within HC towards NHPs could not be hoped for.
There is a large business being carried on in Canada selling fake drugs. They are largely sold through the anonymity of spam email solicitations or through the unwitting agency of pharmacies or by street trafficking like illegal drugs.
A very small part of fake drug sales are made through the retail channel. Since they cannot be sold openly in a store just as they are, fake drugs have to be disguised. Sometimes they are represented as ‘herbal’ products. The fake drug masquerades as a fake NHP. The peddlers of these goods are not part of the legal NHP business. They are outlaws of the drug business.
We are not in the drug business. This is your dirty laundry Health Canada. The issue is not that REAL Natural Health Products are a problem. It is that HC allows drug carpetbaggers to graze into our territory.
We say to Health Canada: Keep your drugs out of our Natural Health Products.
Besides, is there anyone so naive as to imagine that HC cares about the welfare of someone who got an unexpected Viagra response from a bottle of ‘herbal’ sexual aides they bought at the local convenience store? These bureaucrats are comfortably indifferent to the tens of thousands of Canadians annually who die or suffer adverse effects from the legal drugs they so blithely permit. Almost every day Canadians are informed of studies or reports that find some approved prescription drug or another doesn’t work or causes serious adverse effects. About these things Health Canada does nothing. The hypocrisy of Health Canada on product safety is obscene.
While fake drugs are being sold, does HC attack the legal pharmaceutical industry? When fake watches or DVDs are sold does the government attack the manufacturers of legal watches or DVDs? On what policy basis then does HC attack the NHP industry alone?
Health Canada is attempting to smear the legal NHP industry by false association. We say loud and clear: There are NO examples of compliant NHPs being found ‘contaminated’ with fake drugs. HCs' malicious allegations have no factual basis.
The government should order HC to stop this anti-NHP smear campaign at once. The Minister of Health should conduct a thorough investigation and discipline the responsible officials.
Canadian Natural Health Coalition calls on the Members of Parliament to see the following into law:
1. That Natural Health Products are consecrated as a
‘category’ on a peer basis with Foods and Drugs throughout all legislation;
2. That the legislation fixes the definition of NHPs to be that as currently applies for the NHPD;
3. That the legislation specify that NHPs will be remain available to Canadians in the public domain with specific prohibition of prescription status;
4. That all products containing only natural health ingredients and otherwise complying with Good Manufacturing Practices and labelling requirements be available for sale to consumers on a default basis.
WE CONCLUDE, PLAINLY
The Canadian Natural Health Coalition and the public will no longer tolerate the abuse of power from Health Canada. We will mobilize, organize and focus the power of the majority of Canadians who rightfully demand access to safe, effective and low-cost NHPs. We will wage a ceaseless campaign to bring an end to the tyranny of the current regime at Health Canada.
To our Members of Parliament who at present retain our confidence, if you betray our trust we will confront you in the impending federal election. If you want this issue to go away and for the public to applaud you then fix this NOW.
Drafted by Robert McMaster
Canadian Natural Health Coalition
© Canadian Natural Health Coalition 2008
Permission is granted to photocopy or distribute this material, unedited.
This policy statement was approved by the CNHC Executive/Steering committee on June 11, 2008.