It is very likely that you have purchased or seen a consumer health product at some point in the recent past. These products are available at your pharmacy, supermarket and even some convenience stores.
So what exactly is a consumer health product?
A consumer health product is a health product that you can buy without a prescription. The list is surprisingly long and contains products that have a wide range of purposes, from preventing and reducing the risk of disease, to the treatment or symptomatic relief of injuries, chronic conditions and any number of every-day ailments. Vitamins, headache remedies, allergy medications, toothpaste, herbal remedies, sunscreens, acne lotions and soaps, and lip balms are some examples of commonly used consumer health products.
Therapeutic categories of consumer health products include:
- Allergy medications
- Analgesic/antipyretic (pain reliever/fever reducer) products
- Antacid, antiflatulent and antireflux products
- Anti-fungal products
- Antiparasitic/anthelmintic (lice) products
- Antidiarrheal products
- Antinauseant/antiemetic products
- Antiperspirant products
- Cardiovascular products
- Colon electrolyte lavage products
- Contact lens products
- Contraceptive products
- Cough and cold products
- Dental and oral care products
- Diabetes products
- Ear care products
- Eye care products
- Feminine care products
- Foot care products
- Hemorrhoid products
- Incontinence products
- Laxative products
- Nutritional supplements
- Ostomy care products
- Ovulation test products
- Pregnancy test products
- Skin care products
- Sleeping aid products
- Smoking cessation products
- Sunscreen products
- Topical first aid products
- Urological therapies
- Weight control products
- and many others...
This list is not exhaustive: some sources state that there are as many as 80 therapeutic categories of consumer health products. Furthermore, as research continues, more and more therapeutic categories will be added to this list.
How do you know that a consumer health product has been approved by Health Canada?
All consumer health products that have been approved for sale in Canada by Health Canada will have a product number on the label. The prefix of the number indicates whether it has been approved according the Food and Drug Regulations or by the Natural Health Products Regulations. For example, a product with the prefix DIN indicates that it has been approved according to the requirements of the Food and Drug Regulations; the prefixes NPN and DIN-HM indicates that the product has been approved according to the requirements of the Natural Health Products Regulations. A product with the prefix "EN" indicates that it is awaiting review as a natural health product by Health Canada.
When you are selecting a consumer health product, be sure to check the expiry date, that the protective seal is intact, and look for the:
- DIN (Drug Identification Number);
- NPN (Natural Product Number); or
- DIN-HM (Homeopathic Medicine Number).