Should herbal and homeopathic medicines be regulated like drugs?


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12 comments

  1. Alex Murdoch

    If alternative medicine, specifically homeopathy, claims to improve health and function as a drug, they should meet the same rigorous standards that drug manufacturers face.

  2. Gerry Harrington

    This is a great summary of the issues that Health Canada faces it it tries – once again – to get the balance right on this issue.

    And, yes, this IS a balancing act. As a science-based organisation, Health Canada should not be blurring the lines between evidence-based products and those that are based on nothing more than tradition or discredited concepts like homeopathy. The proposed approach to licensing and approving only science-based products is therefor a huge step in the right direction. That said, there are valid reasons for not outright banning the products in the latter category, unless they pose a risk to the user’s health. One is that there are many Canadians with strong cultural attachments to alternative medical models, including traditional Chinese medicine, Ayurveda and First Nations medicine, who will seek out these products. Capturing them in a framework that at least regulates quality standards and labelling is preferable to creating a void that will be filled with black market products sold through a wide variety of outlets. Similarly, the Internet is filled with options that are accessible to Canadians seeking health products, but effectively beyond Health Canada’s regulatory reach. A regulatory framework that provides safer alternatives to these unregulated products will reduce the overall risk to Canadians who choose to seek out alternatives to science-based products.

  3. Prestall Robertson

    The problem with science getting involved with natural medicine is that unless they can patent any drug or natural medicine they are not interested in research In other words if they can suck every last nickel out of the public while they are ill they are interested it’s all about money If they found a drug or natural medicine that really shows promise they would sweep their promising research under the rug and opt for some thing more financial rewarding We live in a very sad world

  4. Jennifer

    I’m laughing that the people selling natural products are complaining that the products might no longer be sold. Look, if you believe your product works, you should be all for this. Use it as a way to edge out your competition. Prove your claims. The only reason to be against this is if deep down you know your product can’t meet the new requirements.

  5. Anupam Gupta

    Most of the herbal products are sold with unproven and unscientific claims, and it is time modern scientific techniques are deployed to sift actual benefits from quackery……

  6. Patricia

    I think regulation of naturopathic (N) and homeopathic (H) medecines should be done, yes, but by N/H experts. Conventional medicine cannot speak to N/H, so unless Health Canada has N/H experts on staff, it has no qualification to test or regulate any N/H medicines, nor any right to limit or withhold N/H medecines from anyone. I don’t think any so-called “disproved” or “unproved” medicines should be banned, but just not included on the list of medicines that can be claimed by health coverage.

  7. Rob Martinek

    Why is melatonin ( a known hormone) allowed to be sold over the counter? When I tried to educate myself on the risks and benefits of melatonin, I found the Health Canada information sheet was very superficial and lacked the scientific data to actually assess the risks and benefits of this known physiologically active compound. The reference it provided regarding risks did not actually address the question of risks, It just suggested that studies are needed to assess risks. I hope that HC changes its approach to accurately inform and protect the public.

    If a compound has a physiological effect, then there will also be a risk of an adverse effect. It does not matter if the compound is natural or synthetic. Both should have proper evidence to evaluate if they actually work and what the risk of harm is so that people can make an informed decision to use that compound.

    Synthetic compounds (Drugs) require studies to show that they work and that they do not have dangerous side effects. Similar standards should apply to natural compounds as well.

  8. Suzanne Stoeckle

    Regulations! Health Canada has been on a “merry go round” of indecision for over 30 years as per alternatives to drugs…. This has cost the consumer – yes the consumer – thousands of dollars as they have to absorb the cost when Manufactures have to complying to these never ending changes! As well think of the millions of our tax dollars spent by Health Canada while they flounder about. This is a make work project! As per the quality of these products – The only way to regulate the quality is to randomly test them and publish the results.Health Canada can not afford this? – Well why not? They have spent millions on changing the regulations for over the past 30 years!! as well stop the importation of foods and herbs from China. How will we be exposed to the heavy metals in our foods and herbs from China? We regulate our own foods more than we regulate imports form China. As per effectiveness – the current system is a good one – clinical trials and traditional use-evidence is required… no absolute claims are allowed. Make our natural supplements drugs? Just recently we learned that a very high % of women taking the birth control pills suffer from depression – if the drug regulations are better why did we not know this before? Depression is a serious illness. Why where the makers of birth control pills not asked to test for this side effect? Why? Contrary to what people think a real clinical study takes over 20 years – using a very large number of humans as guinea pigs! So women have been used in a clinical trial – now we know that birth control pills may cause depression in almost 25% of those who take them…! Drugs are not safe. Calling a Nutraceutical a drug will not ensure safety. How many people have died or become critically ill using natural supplements? Well – just do a little research and you will find that a very large number of people are adversely effected by drugs and also die from the use of these drugs – every day! I am not sure what has triggered this change- CBC? well we all know that they have had a issue with natural products fr many years and that they constantly engaged in unethical reporting. When they have an agenda it is clear form the coverage it is not balanced. When did they ever do a program and interview consumers who have had great results using natural health products? Why not? The last program they did they used an American lab (yes an American Lab not a Canadian Lab) to test some natural products and then they went on air to “expose all these Canadian Manufactures” and guess what the tests were wrong!! I hope those manufactures took legal action. As well we need to keep in mind that Pharmaceutical companies do not like nutraceutical products (Natural Health Products) – it takes away from their bottom line – people are using nutraceuticals as an option to drugs in increasing numbers – if Natural Products do not work why are they using them? As well Canada is on the brink of signing 2 large trade deals – one with Europe – could this be the issue? These countries do not like our current system! German Pharmaceutical companies that “rule the roost ” in Europe do not like our system! In Europe Vitamin C is allowed at 60mg per day in Canada and the USA we are allowed up to 2000mg – so you see if this is the issue we are on the road to loosing our alternatives to drugs. Removing the claims we now have on Nutraceuticals will remove an educational tool we have developed for consumers. We are all busy people – do we have time to do research as to what herbs may help improve sleep or what nutrients may help to improve vision or maintain vision as we age as per the clinical studies done to date? We need to ask – WHY THIS CHANGE? WE NEED TO GET THE ANSWER TO THIS QUESTION? Why change the existing regulations – what has prompted this turn about – they were so right 5 years ago?

  9. Daniel Hufnagel

    Though these changes to the regulation would no doubt put the damper on some false claims for ineffective or even dangerous products; it would do far more harm by preventing people from benefiting from the hundreds of products that have demonstrated their effectiveness over decades and even hundreds of years by their being used by the general public even though no officially approved trials have been registered.

  10. drew

    gov never did any good sticking thier nose in to any thing its all about control and more money

  11. harv

    How many adverse side effects are there from so called tested drugs

  12. Rola Priatel

    Been talking about this since 1994 when HPB, the name Health Canada had at the time, decided to do exactly what it is repurposing now! Of course there will be many nay-sayers who claim that consumers will be deprived of their “choice” in favour for the pharmaceutical industry’s benefits since most products would be taken off the shelf. This is where health authorities need to find their balance. They need to find knowledgeable unbiased educated party similar to the Commission E monograph in Germany. This group would base regulations on studies, with giving some regards to ones that are not as rigorous as what we want as clinicians but balance those with some benefits vs risks assessments in order to make best educated advice to claims. If this were done properly, at the end of the day, consumers would also benefit as their choice would still be there but with less bias and randomness. Right now most claims are costing consumers much money with little health benefits, maybe at the end of the day , it will cost consumers some money with some health benefits. Is it worth the process? Sure…

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