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

Birth season affects your mood in later life

Oct 19, 2014

New research shows that the season you are born has a significant impact on your risk of developing mood disorders. People born at certain times of year may have a greater chance of developing certain types of affective temperaments, ...

CMS announces two new initiatives to improve care

Oct 17, 2014

(HealthDay)—Two initiatives have been announced to help improve the quality of post-acute care in nursing homes and ensure safe delivery of quality care to home health patients, according to a report published ...

User comments