72016Oct
Natural Health Products (NHPs) Are Not Drugs.

Natural Health Products (NHPs) Are Not Drugs.

Written by: Dr. Reuben Dinsmore

I know that I’m preaching to the choir here – if you have been to see a naturopathic doctor, there’s a very high chance you’ve benefitted from the recommendation of certain nutraceutical supplements along your treatment journey. And so I invite you to take a moment to add your voice to the ongoing consultation with Health Canada over whether or not NHPs should be regulated in the same way that drugs are.

I wholeheartedly agree that there needs to be clear regulations over any product that is being marketed for its health benefits. However, there are various reasons why it’s impractical and unnecessary to require manufacturers of NHPs to go through the same procedures as drug manufacturers.

First, drugs are typically single ingredient formulations, with a single or occasionally dual purpose – for example, acetaminophen for pain relief, and also for fever reduction. When combinations are marketed, as in a cold formula, each of the single ingredients undergo their own clinical trials to prove their efficacy in whatever health claim that ingredient is aimed at.

Many supplements, particularly herbal formulations, are designed to take advantage of the synergy between the various ingredients. Less often do we recommend a single remedy for a single purpose, as a main tenet is treating the patient as a whole instead of simply a symptom in a body system.

This becomes difficult, even impossible, to prove efficacy of a formula, as clinical trials are designed around single ingredients, to exclude all possible variables. In addition, supplements are intended to work over a longer time period than drugs – helping the body return to its natural state of health rather than pharmaceutically forcing it into an unnatural place. I’ve often asked patients to be patient – that they’ve often spent decades getting to their current state, so they shouldn’t expect me to fix them in a few weeks. The expense of running a clinical trial is difficult at best, for a product that typically can’t be patented and charged drug company prices for – this onus becomes even more difficult when a clinical trial needs to run over many months to determine efficacy.

Bottom line, changing the regulation requirements will increase prices of NHPs and would likely make access much more difficult – and for what purpose?

Please consider expressing your views, hopefully in opposition to this attempt to fix a system that isn’t even broken. You can read more and find contact information at the following site:

https://chfa.ca/en/natural-health-products/nhps-not-drugs/index.html

In health,

Dr. Reuben Dinsmore, ND




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