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CHFA: “Health Canada listening to industry members, consumers”

by Helen Long, CHFA president

So the question on everyone’s mind lately is, ‘What’s going on with the NHP Regulations?’  As someone involved in this file every day, I’m going to share my thoughts.  To make sure everyone’s on the same page – here’s a brief overview of what’s happened so far. 

 

So the question on everyone’s mind lately is, ‘What’s going on with the NHP Regulations?’  As someone involved in this file every day, I’m going to share my thoughts.  To make sure everyone’s on the same page – here’s a brief overview of what’s happened so far. 

Back in September, 2016, Health Canada proposed changes to the way natural health products (NHPs) could be regulated and opened a 45 day consultation.  As a result of the short consultation time, lack of details and poorly laid foundation for the changes, CHFA rallied its members and consumers to contact the health minister and members of parliaments (MPs) to express our concerns. 

Ongoing letters and meetings with MPs across Canada as well as numerous communications and meetings with the Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate (NNHPD) took place starting last October.  On March 31, Health Canada released its What We Heard report, summarizing the consultation feedback received from 3,500 respondents (70 per cent consumers).

With CHFA West and the first two Health Canada consultations behind us, here’s an update on what we heard in April.   On the positive side, NNHPD does appear to be listening to what they’re hearing from CHFA members and consumers and is saying some encouraging things.  A few of the key learnings they’ve acknowledged verbally include:

  • The 53 recommendations should be maintained;
  • NHPs are not drugs;
  • Current NHP system is strong and they want to build on those strengths;
  • Maintaining use of tools like guidance documents to guide licensing;
  • That consumers should have informed choice, and;
  • Cultural diversity must be maintained and respected.

Some smaller stakeholder groups, including CHFA’s board of directors were also able to meet with director general Manon Bombardier and her staff while in Vancouver.  Those meetings were, for the most part, productive and the feedback I’ve heard reflects CHFA’s observation that NNHPD is taking our concerns seriously. 

While we continue to wait for additional clarity on some of the terms being used, there are some important details that we must continue to press for.  They are:

  • Definition of modern evidence;
  • Definition of moderate vs. minor conditions;
  • Where existing products will fall into the proposed class system;
  • How will this system reduce consumer confusion;
  • GMP requirements and compliance and enforcement.

Ultimately, until we start to see some of the verbal comments and commitments in writing, we remain guarded but optimistic.  There is a second round of consultations scheduled in June although details have not yet been released. 

   For more details or to get involved, please visit chfa.ca. •

 

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