By Natural Health Products Protection Association
Many in the industry are understandably relieved with the publicity that Health Canada will not start its strict compliance plan against unlicensed natural health products until 2011.
The industry has also been thrown another concession, a review of a handful of the Schedule F (i.e. prescription drugs).
It is frightening that these are seen as “positive” developments. They are “positive” in the sense that the industry is being granted a few concessions. What is frightening, however, is how grateful and complacent the natural health community becomes when Health Canada slows its drive to re-shape the NHP industry into something that only the larger companies want.
The natural health community has become so afraid of Health Canada that a slowing of the “inevitable” death of the natural health product industry as we knew it becomes a cause of relief.
The reality is that:
- we are going to lose 75-80% of our natural health products;
- the “types” of products will change. Many multi-ingredient products will not remain;
- innovation into multi-ingredient products will be stifled;
- our children will not have access to the types of products we enjoyed;
- many quality firms will not survive;
- many will be terrorized by Health Canada enforcement action when full compliance is a reality;
- eventually we will face cost recovery.
What is perhaps most troubling is that Canadians who rely on NHPs that will be lost are going to suffer health consequences. This is an ethical crisis that we face. We know that the natural health community is more than a marketplace or a business environment: it is a place where many find healing and relief. We also know that by rendering the majority of NHPs illegal, that many will suffer health consequences. Most of us are standing by and watching as this happens.
The over-regulation of the NHP industry is not an accident. It is not a mistake. It is not due to any misunderstanding of the meaning of the NHP Regulations. The death of the NHP industry as we knew it is the inevitable result of the Regulations as they are currently written. Doing nothing, or trying to achieve minor concessions can only lead to the result we are all witnessing happen.
The NHPPA is not willing to celebrate minor concessions while NHPs continue to be relentlessly driven from the shelves.
The natural health community is facing a crisis of belief. Many believe they have to settle for the truncated industry that Health Canada will allow. Many believe that we cannot have a vibrant industry that celebrates innovation and common sense. Many believe that putting vulnerable Canadians at risk as vital health products are taken away cannot be stopped. Many believe that Canadians cannot have the freedom to access natural health products that they previously enjoyed. The NHPPA does not subscribe to any of these beliefs.
In its short history the NHPPA has demonstrated the power of positive action and belief.
The NHPPA does not believe that the natural health community needs to settle for the bleak future Health Canada is offering. The NHPPA does not believe that we can ethically pass this challenge by accepting complacency and fear. Indeed, complacency and fear are necessary for Health Canada to succeed.
The public supports this industry and is passionate and motivated about protecting access to natural health products. We do not have to settle. We can re-focus and move forward.
The NHPPA is calling on the entire natural health community to shake off complacency and fear, and work towards ensuring we have a vibrant and growing future.