Natural Health Advocates Defeat Government Power-Grab!

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July 19, 2008 | 43,258 views

In a surprising victory for natural health proponents, Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement has agreed to the key demands of a grassroots campaign against restrictions on homeopathic medicines and herbal remedies in new legislation.

In the proposed new law's original language, natural medicines were lumped in with pharmaceutical drugs, raising concerns they would be subject to the same type of oversight. Some believed it could mean that a product as common as vitamin C would be unavailable without a prescription.

The government has now proposed to insert a definition of natural health products into the Food and Drugs Act to "clearly recognize" that they are distinct from foods and drugs under the law.

Other changes have been adopted which will make it clear that natural medicines will follow a different process to get to market. The new amendments will make explicit mention that traditional knowledge and history of use can be considered for obtaining authorization to sell a natural health product.

UPDATE AND AMENDMENTS: Please see important amendments to this article here.

UPDATE AND AMENDMENTS: This comment has been updated and amended. Please see my amended Comment in SPECIAL UPDATE: Canadian Bill STILL Poses a Threat to Natural Health Consumers.

It’s always a pleasure to be the bringer of good news, and this would certainly fall in that category. This is a follow-up on the story I ran in the latter part of June about the proposed Canadian law C-51, which was fraught with language poised to wreak havoc with the natural health industry.

Fortunately, Canadian Health Minister Tony Clement decided to make some vital changes to the bill after rallies were organized across Canada by the Canadian Health Food Association, which represents manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers in the natural products industry.

The Natural Health Products Protection Association also launched a campaign to rid the bill of its "police state" powers to search private property for illegal products, stating the proposed legislation “read like a police state manual."

After hearing the opposition, Mr. Clement admitted that “it became clear that some things that we thought were implicit in the bill needed to be spelled out.”

To me, that particular statement sounds a bit funny coming from a lawyer (he was previously employed as legal counsel with the law firm Bennett Jones LLP.), and this incident of “oops, I didn’t see those loopholes,” unfortunately ends up smelling like industry infiltration.

If nothing else then for the sheer fact that once a politician has chosen to soil his reputation by not openly dealing with his conflicts of interest, it’s more difficult to look the other way later on.

When Tony Clement became the Canadian Minister of Health in 2006, he was sharply criticized for not getting rid of his 25 percent equity position in Prudential Chem Inc., a Toronto manufacturer of pharmaceutical chemicals.

After public uproar, he finally transferred his shares to the president of Prudential Chem later that year. However, according to the Minister’s Chief of Staff, Clement received no compensation for his shares, which also may strike some people as odd. Is he really out of the business, or are there still hidden but lingering ties?

Anyway, regardless of what Mr. Clement’s intentions might have been when he used his legal expertise to draft this bill, it’s a good day when the voice of the people is so loud it cannot be ignored.

[+]Sources and References [-]Sources and References