Centre for Science in the Public Interest

For the Record

For Immediate Release:
June 29, 1999

For more information:
Bill Jeffery

   Consumer Group Criticizes Industry Domination of Health Canada’s Natural Health Products Board
OTTAWA (June 29, 1999) —A consumer-advocacy organization today criticized Health Canada for appointing a dozen industry representatives to Health Canada’s 17-seat Office of Natural Health Products transition team. In a letter to Health Minister Allan Rock, the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) charged that Health Canada is allowing industry to dominate the team in charge of setting up the assessment, licensing, and regulation process for natural health products and establishments. Natural health products include vitamin, herbal, and other dietary supplements.

     “Canadians deserve to have health policy developed by individuals who do not have a financial interest in the outcome of their recommendations” said Bill Jeffery, Public Policy Analyst for CSPI. “While some natural products may complement conventional medical treatment, we can’t trust such products to be properly tested for safety and effectiveness when the board responsible for setting up the approvals process is dominated by the same people who will ultimately have to abide by the rules they make,” he said.

     The House of Commons Health Committee released a report last November urging the federal government to set up an agency to conduct pre-market assessment and licensing of natural health products and establishments. The Committee was mandated to look into the regulation of those products after a consumer and industry outcry forced Minister Rock to back off his earlier attempts to have them regulated as drugs. Last March, the federal government accepted all of the recommendations of the House of Commons committee report and recently appointed a transition team to begin the implementation process.

     “Industry domination of the transition team is definitely a step in the wrong direction. Canadians should be concerned about the lack of independent experts on the panel,” said Jeffery.

The Centre for Science in the Public Interest / Centre pour la Science dans l’intérêt public (CSPI) is a North American non-profit consumer health organization based in Washington, D.C. with a Canadian office in Ottawa and staff in Toronto. CSPI is funded by more than 135,000 Canadian subscribers to its Nutrition Action Healthletter and over 900,000 subscribers in North America. CSPI accepts no funding from government or industry.

CSPI Canada