by Zoltan P. Rona, M.D., M.Sc.
"There is no question that what is going on at the HPB does not really protect citizens. The provisions that have just come into place are merely paper processes. For example, no one at HPB is actually analyzing the product in bottles so that as a citizen you are assured that what is on the label is in the bottle. This is what should be done, but instead they're putting in place paper processes, such as labelling requirements and higher fees, that will push the small people out of the marketplace and leave it open for the large pharmaceutical firms to come in and try to tell us that their products are now safer. They will not be any safer because there is no real scrutiny of the quality and information about the products."
Dr. Michele Brill-Edwards (ex-HPB official)
The recent disappearance of DHEA, kava kava, chromium picolinate and melatonin from health food store shelves represents only the tip of the iceberg of natural products zapped by the Health Protection Branch (HPB) of Health Canada, a misnomer if there ever was one. With few exceptions, these "banned" natural remedies are safer than coffee, cola drinks and hospital food. They are all available in technologically advanced countries like the USA, Great Britain and Japan without a prescription. Their one common denominator, aside from the fact that each and every one of them is found in varying degrees in the human body, is that they represent competition to prescription and over the counter (OTC) drugs. How is this true?
The HPB applies very different standards to drugs than it does to natural food supplements. Drug manufacturers uniformly make claims for their products yet the HPB takes no action whatsoever. The HPB turns a blind eye when the pharmaceutical industry makes unsubstantiated claims for drugs like the calcium channel blockers. On the other hand, when a natural supplement manufacturer puts a product on the market and makes no claims for medical uses but a magazine article claims health benefits for the same supplement, the HPB suddenly classifies the product as a drug, enforces drug (DIN) standards without warning and leaves the public no safe drug alternative. Legal opinion has it that this is a flagrant violation of the Food & Drug Act in favour of the pharmaceutical interests, hospitals, medical doctors, and the medical industry. A lawsuit launched by Freedom of Choice in Health care and others will likely prove this in court.
"My experience is that the lobby for the pharmaceuticals in Canada is very vigorous and effective, especially since it has been headed up by a former Liberal cabinet minister. In fact, Diane Marlowe, the Health Minister from 1993 to 1996, was the campaign chairwoman for Judy Erola during the Trudeau era, when she ran as an MP. Judy Erola eventually was appointed Minister of Consumer and Corporate Affairs and, upon leaving this post, became the President of the Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Canada (PMAC) and spearheaded the 20-year patent law. The 20-year patent law is the result of this type of cozy relationship between government agencies and pharmaceuticals. The lifelong 'beds of clover' offered by pharmaceuticals to government officials for multi-million-dollar favours is a lot more enticing than 'serving the public good.' The end result is that drug costs are now the fastest-growing expense in medical services."
Dr. Michele Brill-Edwards (ex-HPB official)
|THE BANNED TOP 40||TOXICITY||AVAILABILITY||PROBABLE DRUG COMPETITOR|
|5-hydroxy-tryptophan||none||USA, UK, Japan||anti-depressants, anti-anxiety drugs|
|Arginine||none||USA, UK, Japan||diet drugs, performance enhancing steroids|
|Ascorbyl palmitate||none||USA, UK, Japan||preservatives|
|Boron||none||USA, UK, Japan||osteoporosis & arthritis drugs, estrogens|
|Chaparral||rare liver||USA, UK, Japan||chemotherapy drugs, antibiotics|
|Chromium picolinate||none||USA, UK, Japan||diet drugs, diabetes & lipid lowering drugs|
|Carnitine||none||USA, UK, Japan||heart drugs, diet drugs, lipid lowering drugs|
|Comfrey||rare liver||USA, UK, Japan||tonics, osteoporosis drugs, analgesics|
|DHEA||none||USA, UK, Japan||allergy, cancer & immune system drugs|
|Dimethylglycine (DMG)||none||USA, UK, Japan||performance enhancing steroids|
|D,L-Phenylalanine||none||USA, UK, Japan||analgesics, anti-depressants|
|Fish oils (MaxEPA)||none||USA, UK, Japan||heart drugs, aspirin|
|Horsetail||none||USA, UK, Japan||osteoporosis & arthritis drugs|
Gamma Amino Butyric Acid
|USA, UK, Japan||anti-anxiety drugs, hypnotics|
|Glutamine||none||USA, UK, Japan||alcohol addiction drugs|
|Germanium||rare kidney||USA, UK, Japan||allergy, cancer & immune system drugs|
|Gotu kola||none||USA, UK, Japan||circulation drugs, scleroderma drugs|
|Lysine||none||USA, UK, Japan||anti-viral, especially herpes drugs|
|Kava kava||none||USA, UK, Japan||anti-anxiety drugs|
|Lily of the valley||rare heart||USA, UK, Japan||heart and circulation drugs|
|Melatonin||none||USA, UK, Japan||hypnotics, anti-depressants, birth control pills|
|Octacosanol||none||USA, UK, Japan||performance enhancing steroids|
|Orotates||none||USA, UK, Japan||performance enhancing steroids, chemotherapy|
|Ornithine||none||USA, UK, Japan||diet drugs, performance enhancing steroids|
|Panthetine (dexpanthenol)||none||USA, UK, Japan||heart drugs, lipid lowering drugs|
|Phenylalanine||none||USA, UK, Japan||aspartame, anti-depressants, diet drugs|
|Picolinates||none||USA, UK, Japan||drugs too numerous to list|
|Progesterone cream||none||USA, UK, Japan||hormone replacement therapy|
|Proline||none||USA, UK, Japan||heart disease drugs|
|Salmon oil||none||USA, UK, Japan||anti-inflammatory drugs, heart drugs|
|Selenomethionine||none||USA, UK, Japan||heart drugs, cancer chemotherapy drugs|
|Squalene||none||USA, UK, Japan||anti-inflammatory drugs, heart drugs|
|Stevia||none||USA, UK, Japan||aspartame, saccharine, sugar|
|Taheebo (Pau D'arco)||none||USA, UK, Japan||cancer chemotherapy drugs, antifungal drugs|
|Thioctic acid (lipoic acid)||none||USA, UK, Japan||drugs too numerous to list|
|Tryptophan||none||prescription only||anti-depressants, hypnotics, anti-anxiety drugs|
|Tyrosine||none||USA, UK, Japan||anti-depressants, diet drugs|
|Vanadyl sulfate||none||USA, UK, Japan||anti-diabetes drugs, anti-hypertensives|
|Yohimbine||rare heart||prescription only||diet drugs, male potency drugs|
|Zinc picolinate||none||USA, UK, Japan||anti-cataract drugs|
"I think that it is fairly obvious now that the HPB is acting in the best interests of the pharmaceuticals, not the Canadian people. A glaring example is the contamination of the Canadian blood supply by hepatitis C as well as AIDS, while the HPB did not enforce its legislated power to inspect, regulate, and test blood supplies during the 1980's and [does not] even now. This was done to protect political interests and the profits of the pharmaceuticals. Another example is the negligence regarding the toxicity of mercury amalgam fillings and many of the new drugs coming on the market."
Dr. Michele Brill-Edwards (ex-HPB official)
The recent banning of natural progesterone cream is a good example of the blatant bias of the HPB against the natural health product industry. Progesterone is a hormone present in the human body in both males and females. It is not a drug but a natural substance which cannot be patented unless it is somehow chemically adulterated. The progesterone found in most creams used for reversing osteoporosis and PMS symptoms, relieving hot flashes and the other symptoms of menopause is an unadulterated form of the hormone which is derived from yams. Pharmaceutical or prescription progesterone (e.g. Prometrium® or Provera®) is a synthetically altered hormone which can damage the liver and is a drug with numerous side effects. The two substances are not identical, a fact which is clearly documented in hundreds of published scientific studies.
"We have found that if a drug can be found to do the job
of medical healing, a nutrient can be found to do the same job.
When we understand how a drug works, we can imitate its action
with one of the nutrients."
Pfeiffer's Law (from The Healing Nutrients Within by Dr. Eric Braverman)
Canadian women have been using natural progesterone cream for over 5 years. Why is the HPB only now awakening to the fact that thousands of Canadian women are using natural progesterone cream? It's simple. Natural progesterone cream is safe, effective and very popular with women who would rather avoid the high cancer risk with conventional hormone replacement therapy. It's competition, so the HPB robots react to eliminate it.
Like the bans on melatonin and DHEA, the ban on progesterone cream is illogical, unnecessary and a potential threat to the health of women who have been safely using the product for many years as an alternative to the more toxic prescription drugs. Melatonin, DHEA and progesterone cream are all available in the USA at health food stores without a prescription. To date, there is no evidence whatsoever of toxicity. It's time we demanded that the government conduct an investigation into how the HPB operates. Nothing else including "negotiations" will ever make them change.
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Copyright 1997 by Zoltan P. Rona, M.D., M.Sc.
1466 Bathurst Street, Suite 305
Toronto, ONT. M5R 3J3
PH: 416-534-8880; FAX:416-534-6723
Reproduction and dissemination of this article is encouraged but written permission is required.
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