Natural Health Products have been the subject of scrutiny for a very long time and though critics of their use often try to argue that manufacturers of them make unrealistic health claims or that the product inside the bottle is not what is on the label, the reality is that these baseless arguments are not the biggest issue with natural health products and the health industry. Rather, the main issue surrounding natural health products in Canada is our lack of access to them.
For a long time now, Good Manufacturing Processes have ensured ethical manufacturing of natural health products in Canada so that the quality you get on the inside of the bottle is reflected honestly and accurately on the outside of the bottle. Product testing and batch analyses are regularly conducted as per good business practices to verify that companies are not cutting corners.
The irony that certain groups would argue that natural health product manufacturers are making unsubstantiated claims is that manufacturers never even had to make health claims before the NHP Regulations came into existence in 2004. After that time, companies have been forced by Health Canada to make health claims which they can then prove using clinical evidence or monographs. The issue is that most companies cannot afford to do expensive clinical trials and research on these products (especially multi-ingredient products) because these products are not patentable – meaning that anyone can come along and steal their research and product. So, as a result, we are left with inferior products that have base levels of ingredients in them and are usually only single ingredient because these are the only options for which there exists a body of literature to prove health claims they are forced to make in the first place!
All of this results in less natural health products being available on the market in general and very few creative or innovative products that might use ingredient synergy to produce even more substantial therapeutic or preventative results in particular. Additionally, this cheapens the market, making it easier for big pharmaceutical corporations to eek out the smaller, more innovative competitors. The lack of access to high quality natural health products by decent manufacturers is the biggest problem facing Canadian consumers of these products today. It goes directly against what Canadians stated they wanted in stakeholder meetings prior to the creation of the NHP regulations – which was increased access to higher quality products, not decreased access to lesser quality products. And it certainly wasn’t the case that Canadians wanted to be destroying local, small and medium-sized businesses in the process either!