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).

While 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.

"The multibillion-dollar natural health products industry sells the perception that because its products are "natural," they must also be safe, such that comprehensive testing like that required for pharmaceuticals is not required," write guest author Dr. Stuart MacLeod with editor Dr. Matthew Stanbrook and colleagues. "However, it is a near-universal truth that any substance that exerts a beneficial effect on a biological system will also have the potential for adverse effects."

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."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Report: Combination of health goods risky

Jul 22, 2007

A study in Canada has found the health industry has not adequately recognized the danger of pairing natural health products with prescription medication.

Recommended for you

Vaccination for nicotine addiction being developed

5 minutes ago

A Virginia Tech professor is working on a vaccine that could help smokers conquer their nicotine addiction, making many smoking-related diseases and deaths relics of the 21st century.

Initiative to emphasize concussions are treatable

2 hours ago

At a time when the national concussion conversation instills fear and uncertainty among parents and athletes at all levels, the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program is working to change the current discussion where two ...

England's NHS appeals for more government funds

2 hours ago

Leaders of England's state-funded National Health Service (NHS) warned on Thursday that billions of pounds in extra funds were needed to maintain patient care, laying down the gauntlet to politicians ahead of May's general ...

Lose the weight, not the potatoes

3 hours ago

A new study demonstrates that people can eat potatoes and still lose weight." Potatoes, Glycemic Index, and Weight Loss in Free-Living Individuals: Practical Implications" is now available through free access from the Journal of ...

User comments