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CANADIAN NATUROPATHY & THE DRUG CONNECTION

by Zoltan P. Rona, MD, MSc

"I would like to suggest that in light of the political events that are going on regarding the HPB attempt to regulate the natural products industry..........your timing in this collaboration is not wise."
Jennifer Doan, N.D.
(Oct. 24, 1997, letter to Mr. David Schleich, President of CCNM)

A SWEET DEAL

If a school of natural healing was sponsored by Rothman's cigarettes or Acetominophen, Caffeine and Codeine Caplets, how would you feel about the integrity of that school?

Shocked and concerned naturopaths like Toronto's Dr. Jennifer Doan recently discovered that the president of the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine, Mr. David Schleich, had made a deal with Wampole Canada (Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Consumer Inc.), a drug company supportive of the HPB's policies to tighten controls on natural food supplements.

"We're treating our herbal standardized extracts like pharmaceuticals."
Aubrey Dan
Wampole Canada

For an undisclosed sum of cash, CCNM is to create a "year-long training program" for pharmacists scheduled for early 1998. Interviews with CCNM suppliers who did not wish to be identified mentioned figures of $30,000 for this deal with pharmacists. Or was it 30 pieces of silver? Welcome to the new and improved drug company sponsored Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

In a press release dated April 9, 1997, the details were announced:

"Wampole President Aubrey Dans says, 'Program participants will study in-depth some 45 herbs commonly used in Canada.' Plus information on indications, pharmacology, biochemistry, historical uses, side effects, drug interactions and dosing will be emphasized. The herbal market is now exploding and we want to help pharmacists become well versed and capitalize on this growing trend."
CCNM Press Release
April 9, 1997.

The fact that the CCNM has made this deal with people supportive of the HPB agenda to reclassify all herbs and nutritional supplements as drugs should surprise no one. After all, CCNM is a strong supporter of the Canadian Coalition for Health Freedom, an astro-turf (false grass roots) group spearheaded by large food supplement firms with strong ties to the drug business (e.g. Quest, Nu-Life and others).

"With proper counselling, pharmacies could put the health food stores out of business."
Ruben Hashman
Briar Drug, Calgary

Dr. Doan and other naturopaths across Canada feel that this ill-advised move by CCNM will eventually lead to the takeover of the selling of herbs and nutritional supplements by pharmacists. Gone will be the naturopath's/homeopath's office dispensary, the health food store and, along with it, the public's right to choose. After all, if natural food supplements must all be sold with DIN's by CCNM trained pharmacists, what will happen to small manufacturers and retailers? If we look at what's occurred with St. Francis Herb Farms recently, we already have an answer to this question.

"We have wished to remain small in our business and as a small company we find it impossible to oppose the economic and political pressures of standardization, DIN's, manufacturing fees and so on. With much discernment we have made the decision to stop selling finished tinctures and formulas."
St. Francis Herb Farm Inc., Cormac, Ontario
October 1, 1997.

St. Francis Herb Farm will be out of business by November 21, 1997 and other small firms will soon follow. Bioquest's Sophia Jesswein is just one of many small company owners that can read the writing on the wall. She is more than eager to warn Canadian manufacturers and retailers of the impending decimation of the natural health care industry thanks to nonsense like the Wampole deal.

DANCES WITH PHARMACISTS

Old time Canadian practitioners of naturopathy are quick to point out that the single largest obstacle in the way of freedom to practice naturopathy was and will continue to be the pharmaceutical industry. Now that the public is deserting drugs in favour of herbs and other natural remedies, the drug firms are doing the only thing left available to them to take back the loss of profits that this paradigm shift represents. A takeover of the natural supplement industry and the naturopathic profession through both education and questionable deals like that made with the CCNM is the ultimate goal. Although vehemently denied by David Schleich, the Wampole deal is just the tip of the iceberg in the eventual control of CCNM by the drug companies.

Just why is it that a pharmacist and not a qualified herbologist is teaching herbal medicine at CCNM anyway? Dr. Doan thinks this is because CCNM is looking to "outside pharmaceutical companies for recognition and cash." Or is it because "dances with pharmacists" leads to deeper relationships with drug companies?

"My second concern involves the passing down of Naturopathic tradition and knowledge within the college itself. You have a Naturopath/Pharmacist teaching herbal medicine (Michael Smith) and helping with the publication of this material being sold. Herbal medicine comes from a long and valuable tradition and it concerns me that this is not being passed onto or appreciated by naturopathic students. It is impossible for students to grasp the value of this tradition if they are being taught by a pharmacist. The tradition of herbal medicine should be passed on by an expert in herbal medicine, NOT an expert in pharmacy. Do you realize that there is a four-year professional medical herbalists programme in the UK which graduates most of the experts in the field? Why is there not one employed at the College?"
Jennifer Doan, N.D.
(Oct. 24, 1997, letter to Mr. David Schleich, President of CCNM)

THREATENING THE OPPOSITION - THE SCHLEICH EFFECT

In the struggle to protect freedom of choice in health care in 1997, we have seen HPB and RCMP raids. We've seen lies like the Advisory Panel on Herbal Remedies and astro-turf organizations. We can now add to these insults something which can best be called the "Schleich Effect". Apparently, naturopaths protesting the Wampole deal and other dances with pharmacists are to be disciplined or reported for their dissent to the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy.

In a move characteristic of paranoid despots, Schleich fired off a nasty and threatening letter to Dr. Doan for having the audacity to speak out about the Wampole deal to naturopathic students. In an obvious attempt to shut her up, Schleich writes:

"Your representations to our students about the continuing medical education contract with Wampole and about Dr. Smith's professional competence as an instructor at CCNM have been inaccurate, inflammatory and completely inappropriate. You are advised as well that we have reported this incident to the Board of Directors of Drugless Therapy for their review."
David J. Schleich
(Oct. 28, 1997, letter to Dr. Jennifer Doan)

Numerous phone calls made by this reporter and his representatives to Schleich's office were not returned. Instead, in a "Dear Colleague" form letter, Schleich minimizes the Wampole deal and backtracks on the details announced in his original CCNM press release made only a few months earlier. For example, he now claims that the contract called for a one-day seminar (the press release said a year-long association) and that only 15 herbs were the focus (the press release said 45).

Anyone concerned or devoted to the survival of naturopathy in Canada ought to stand up and protest these recent events at the CCNM. The slick press releases, paid PR firms and spin control will never negate the fact that, with this drug company deal, the CCNM's days as a reliable source of unbiased information on natural medicine are numbered.


ZOLTAN P. RONA, M.D., M.Sc.
1466 BATHURST ST. SUITE 305
TORONTO, ONT. M5R 3J3
416-534-8880; FAX:416-534-6723
http://www.selene.com/healthlink/zpr/
http://www.yorku.ca/admin/wellness/articles.htm
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http://www.pnc.com.au/~cafmr/online/freedom/index.html


REFERENCES

Front & Centre. Counselling key to selling vitamins and herbals. Pharmacist News. September 1996, p.8 - 10.

NatraCeuticals Inc. Prospectus. Jan. 23, 1997. Nu-Life Vitamins.

Personal communication: Jennifer Doan, N.D. (1400 Bayview Ave., Toronto, Ont. M4G 3A7; 416-489-9553) and David Schleich (President, The CCNM, 2300 Yonge St., 18th floor, Box 2431, Toronto, Ont., M4P 1E4; 416-486-8584; fax: 416-484-6821; e-mail: info@www.ccnm.edu), October 24, 1997.

Personal communication: Jennifer Doan, N.D. (1400 Bayview Ave., Toronto, Ont. M4G 3A7; 416-489-9553) and David Schleich (President, The CCNM, 2300 Yonge St., 18th floor, Box 2431, Toronto, Ont., M4P 1E4; 416-486-8584; fax: 416-484-6821; e-mail: info@www.ccnm.edu), October 28, 1997.

Personal communication: David Schleich, "Dear Colleague" letter, November 12, 1997.

The Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine. Press Release. Natural medicine education program created for pharmacists. For more information, contact Aubrey Adams White, The CCNM (416-486-8584 x 243) and Susan Posner, Wampole Canada Inc. (416-754-4471 x 2201).