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Ottawa must protect Natural Health Products Regulations with long-promised law for separate category

Industry association rejects Bill C-420 proposal to treat products as

OTTAWA, May 3 /CNW/ - The federal government must protect and enhance
current regulations for natural health products to ensure these products are
regulated appropriately and free of pharmaceutical drug influence, says
Canada's largest natural health products association.

Testifying before the Standing Committee on Health today, the Canadian
Health Food Association (CHFA) urged the Committee to make good on its 1998
recommendations that acknowledged that natural health products were unique,
and enshrine a separate definition for natural health products in law. While
new Natural Health Products Regulations were introduced in 2004, natural
health products remain classed today as a subset of drugs. The Committee is
currently studying Bill C-420, which would change definitions in the Food and
Drugs Act to treat natural health products as foods.

"Canadians want natural health products regulated independently of drugs,
but they also want high quality, safe, effective products and full product
information to make informed choices, measures that the new Natural Health
Products Regulations are striving to achieve. Redefining natural health
products as foods will not solve anything," says CHFA President Valerie Bell.
"The solution is to amend the Food and Drugs Act and create a separate
category for natural health products. This will give natural health product
regulators the full autonomy they need to refine current regulations to meet
the needs of Canadians."

Public outcry over Health Canada's increasing regulation of natural
health products as drugs led the Standing Committee to conduct public hearings
in 1998. In its report containing 53 recommendations, the Committee
acknowledged that natural health products were neither foods nor drugs. It
called for the Food and Drugs Act to be amended to create a separate
regulatory category, along with a separate reporting structure to ensure
'independent decision-making' within a 'process detached from either
pharmaceuticals or foods.' The government accepted all 53 recommendations and
in 2000 established a new Natural Health Products Directorate to develop the
current regulations.

"Treating these products as foods is a step backwards that would create
regulatory and market chaos. Bill C-420 would negate millions of Canadian
taxpayers' dollars spent in the development of new regulations and the
significant resources invested by industry to comply with the new
regulations," says John Holtmann, owner of eight Vita Health Natural Food
Stores in Manitoba and Chair of the Board of Directors of the CHFA. "Let's
protect the benefits provided by the current regulations and improve
regulatory processes by enacting the right legislation to establish a separate

While the CHFA has asked the Standing Committee to reject Bill C-420's
proposal to change food and drug definitions, it supports the Bill's other
amendment to repeal Schedule A and Section 3 (1) (2) of the Food and Drugs
Act. Section 3 was introduced in 1934 to prevent fraudulent claims when there
were no known treatments or cures for many diseases. Today, many products are
globally recognized for their effectiveness to treat and/or reduce risks of
many diseases listed in Schedule A. While the new Natural Health Products
Regulations allow claims on products when supported by scientific evidence,
Section 3 prevents this knowledge from being shared with Canadians on labeling
and in advertising.

"Numerous consumer, practitioner and industry stakeholders have
repeatedly called for repeal of Schedule A and Section 3. This is necessary if
Canadians are to be provided with the information they need to take charge and
better manage the health of their families and themselves," says Gilles Houde,
President, GNC Canada.

The CHFA is Canada's largest natural products organization. It is a
national, non-profit federally chartered trade association with 1,300 members
including retailers, wholesalers, distributors, manufacturers, and other
member associations involved in supplements, vitamins, herbals, homeopathics,
sports nutrition, natural foods and organic products.

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