November 21, 2011
No Double Standards for Natural Health Products
I am almost sure our Canadian neighbors have heard this before, but it is interesting that both the American Medical Association and Canadian Medical Association are constantly calling for regulation of natural health products. While I know this is part of the checks and balances for both countries, both medical communities have increased the rhetoric recently for some reason.
While it is true in these difficult times that more people are turning to natural products to avoid the cost of any medical office visits or expensive medications, it is a shame that the medical communities are trying harder to make alternative medicine even more expensive and unaffordable to many more.
While the Canadian press release is short, it does spell out some excellent points. I do not think all of theirs applies here, but this does not negate concerns on both sides of the border. The one issue that is common is the mantra that because the ingredients are natural, there is not reason to be concerned about taking the alternative medications. This is one falsehood or myth that needs busting and here is my agreement that the regulatory agencies in both countries have been looking the other way for far too long. Allowing this reasoning to continue will do more harm than good in the short- and long-term.
I have written several blogs about the dangers of some alternative medications and supplements that do damage and harm if mixed with some prescription medications. Why with the internet and even the many pharmacists that are aware of the problems, why do people still not check out the harm that can be caused by taking alternative medications with prescription medications? Again, the false information put forth by the natural health products industry sells the perception that because its products are "natural," they must also be safe because they are not required to be tested.
While I agree that testing of many of the alternative medications is not necessary, I am concerned that those that need testing because of known conflicts are being given a pass and not required to be labeled with the known facts of causing harmful or even deadly conflicts. This is where both medical groups in both countries have a valid case and need to pursue it with vigor.
Consumer protection is a valid concern and the one area that the natural health products industry is negligent, this is their weakness, and this needs to be closed and the responsible parties held financially responsible. This carelessness is a concern well founded and needs attention in both countries.