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Self-Care. Done Naturally.
Natural Health Products
Benefiting Canadians and Our Health Care System
Increasingly proactive and independent with their health decisions, nearly 80% of Canadians use natural health products (NHPs). Millennials are driving this trend, and turning to NHPs to support healthy living decisions in the prevention of a range of illnesses and conditions.
Canadians who take a proactive approach to their overall health live better and relieve pressure on our already taxed health care system.
The government’s focus on healthy living and eating is encouraging. As businesses in the NHP and organic food sectors, we play a critical role in the success of these initiatives.
Self-Care – More Than Labelling
Our health care system functions best when Canadians invest in their own health and access health professionals, when necessary. The balance between professional-care, and self-care, relies heavily on consumers, their behavior and understanding of the products that support healthy living.
- This February Health Canada proposed updating the NHP regulations by the fall to require changes to all product labels. While we support their goal of standardizing product labelling, we are troubled by the timelines for the change, and the absence of a supporting policy framework.
- Rushing an initiative that will change the face of all NHPs in Canada can put consumers at risk and undermine the current positive trends in self-care.
- This same initiative is facing multiple challenges for non-prescription drugs. Industry costs are significantly higher than Health Canada estimated and significant consumer concerns have been identified. We need to evaluate before proceeding with NHPs.
Canadian Consumers and Entrepreneurs – Collective Challenges
- Regulatory uncertainty is not good for business or consumers. The Natural Health Products Regulations have been in place for nearly 20 years and while the supporting science, public demand and industry have grown, it has taken place in a continuous state of regulatory uncertainty.
- Since the introduction of the regulations there has never been a consistent and appropriate approach to compliance and enforcement. This undermines the work of compliant industry. It also invites illegal fringe practices that harm credibility and put consumers at risk.
- In addition, consumers are increasingly buying foreign products online that are not required to meet Canadian regulatory or official language requirements. This ‘personal importation’ loophole undermines Canadian businesses and the relevance of Health Canada.
- Based on compliance monitoring projects and product advisories, Health Canada has identified a number of key areas where their efforts could have an important impact on the health and safety of Canadians. These areas include the sale of unauthorized products, adulterated products, foreign products and promoting good quality manufacturing. The labelling of authorized products has not been identified as a cause for concern.
- During a time when Canadians are adopting healthy living strategies with the use of NHPs, we ask that Health Canada recognize the importance of regulatory stability in supporting these practices.
- We support the government’s ongoing efforts to promote self-care as part of healthy living and focus resources on the higher risk industry practices that Health Canada has identified.
- We recommend that labelling interventions follow the thoughtful development of a self-care policy framework and an evaluation of the effectiveness of this initiative for non-prescription drugs.
- Evaluate the impact of e-commerce on self-care, in particular NHPs, to ensure Health Canada remains relevant and our industry vibrant.