NETfacts: Natural Health Products

Natural Health Product(NHP) Quality Regulation in Canada

Last week I responded to the first part of a two-part question about Raspberry Ketones from a member of our Facebook community.  The first issue was our take on how consumer’s could judge the effectiveness of these products, which I addressed by noting that no product had yet been approved by Health Canada with Raspberry Ketones as a medicinal ingredient.  From the consumer standpoint, that doesn’t necessarily mean that these products don’t work, only that the requisite evidence had yet to be presented to Health Canada in a license application.  If that happens, you’ll be able to find the approved product(s) on Health Canada’s Licensed Natural Health Products Database

The second part of the member’s query was about the quality of these products in Canada.  That’s the tricky part.  Our member noted a concern about the NHP quality issue South of the border, which is being actively addressed by Health Canada’s U.S. counterpart. In fact, the Natural Health Products Regulations do regulate quality to a high standard in Canada.  To comply with these regulations, manufacturers must follow Health Canada’s Good Manufacturing Practices Guidance, which govern everything from the premises in which these products are produced and the personnel that produced them, to record keeping, product testing, quality assurance and so forth.  The regulation of manufacturing practices for natural health products is distinct from the regulations for other consumer health products.  For example, unlike over-the-counter medicine (OTC) producers, natural health product manufacturers are not subject to mandatory Health Canada inspections of their production facilities.

But the key to this question goes back to my original response to the post.  If there the product is not approved by Health Canada, i.e., if it does not have that eight-digit NPN number I referred to in my original response, there are no assurances that it has been manufactured according to Health Canada’s Good Manufacturing Practice requirements.  If you want to be sure that a product is subject to Canadian quality standards, look for that NPN on the label!