|How Many Days Left?|
Now You See Them. Now You Don’t.
The final deadline for full enforcement of the NHP Regulations is fast approaching. Or is it?
During 2011 and 2012 Health Canada repeatedly set deadlines and postponed them again.
Does a date even matter since we are in crisis now?
The most important thing for anyone reading this page is to know that as the targeting of specific products continues and as Health Canada gradually ramp up full enforcement we are already seeing a great number of quality natural health products (NHPs) disappear from the shelves of natural health food and supplement stores. A deadline, whenever it may be, may mark the official end of the natural health industry but it is already dying slowly.
If this seems like an exaggeration, it’s not. It’s actually an oversimplification of the issues facing the Canadian natural health industry today. The deadline comes from Health Canada’s enforcement of their 2004 regulations. Regulations imposed on low-risk NHPs, yet created for high-risk chemical drugs. These 2004 regulations allow Health Canada to force all manufacturers of NHPs to go through the long and expensive process of getting a D.I.N or N.P.N. Receiving these numbers indicate that the manufacturer has complied with Health Canada’s standards. Standards that do not meet the recommendations given to them from Parliament in 1998.
Right now, 90% of NHP’s in stores across Canada are there illegally. They are deemed illegal through Health Canada’s defense that drug-style regulations need to be imposed on NHPs to restrict access.
Passing The Buck
Obliging single person and large multi-national manufacturers have filled out all required paperwork to get these numbers (product licences). But what has occurred is that Health Canada has been unable to process licence applications within their set time frame. There are thousands and thousands of natural health products where licence applications have been filed but Health Canada has been unable to process them all. It would be unfair for Health Canada to say that they must be removed from the market for non-compliance when it is Health Canada’s fault.
To accommodate this there is a Compliance Policy under which Health Canada is allowing natural health products with licence applications in the line to stay on the market.
The drop-dead date is simply a date that Health Canada has given to end this process. As of that date it does not matter if you have had a licence application sitting at Health Canada for years or not: the natural health product may be removed from the market.
It also does not matter of these NHPs are relied upon by Canadian’s for their very health and well being. This is where government interferes with our rights and freedoms and the issue becomes very personal.
Deadline or Not
Because Health Canada has been so slow to process license applications, NHP manufacturers and retailers have not yet had to decide what they will do when the overwhelming majority of their products are deemed illegal. It is ominous that the Natural Health Product Directorate (NHPD)* has been given more funding to complete license applications and that Health Canada is hiring more enforcement officers in anticipation of an increase in enforcement activity.
Consumers are advised to stockpile NHPs that they depend on for their health.
Right now, Health Canada is going through the “easy” applications. What NHPs will be left once Health Canada is finished judging over half of these “easy” single-ingredient NHPs? Experts agree that 75% of the more complex, multi-ingredient NHPs will become illegal.
Either way, time is running out.