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Health Canada Ignores Evidence of Harm From Chinese Medicines: Bad Science Watch

Bad Science Watch has issued a new report condemning a draft monograph from the Natural Health Products Directorate that outlines licensing guidelines for ingredients used in Traditional Chinese Medicines

TORONTO, ONTARIO -- (Marketwired) -- 03/17/14 -- In a report issued last week, Bad Science Watch strongly criticised Health Canada's proposed licensing guidelines for ingredients of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). The proposal, intended to assist drug companies in gaining approval for their products, does a poor job of protecting the public from the risks of unproven and sometimes dangerous plant products, and Bad Science Watch has recommended they be reconsidered.

In the highly critical report Bad Science Watch identified dozens of herbs in Health Canada's proposal that that pose risks to human health, and drew attention to toxic ingredients, such as mercury-containing compounds, that have not been included in the prohibited list. The consumer protection group also notes that TCM products have a history of containing undeclared pharmaceutical drugs and misidentified ingredients.

"It is obvious that Health Canada is ignoring its responsibility to properly assess the risks of these ingredients," says Dr. Brian Foster, an Adjunct Professor at the University of Ottawa, and one of the authors of the review. "All products have risk, and by relying upon dated references Health Canada is neglecting emerging evidence on the dangers associated with some of these TCMs. To ensure product safety, Health Canada should hold natural health products to the same high standards they apply to drugs." Dr. Foster worked for the Therapeutic Products Directorate at Health Canada for 26 years, and has intimate knowledge of their policies.

The Natural Health Products Directorate, responsible for licensing TCM preparations, has streamlined licensing processes, with some products now gaining approval in just 10 days. Bad Science Watch has been critical of this effort and publishes regular reports to bring attention to Canada's weakening consumer protection measures.

The full report can be found at http://www.badsciencewatch.ca/projects/nhpd-monograph-consultations/.

Bad Science Watch is an independent consumer protection organization dedicated to improving the lives of Canadians by advocating for good science in public policy.

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