Health Canada has this thing where it solemnly approves homeopathic stuff as safe, effective and of high quality. What kind of stuff? you ask with your inquiring minds. Oh, nothing much. Just insulin and things.
Pharmacist Scott Gavura tells us about it:
The Natural Health Product Regulations, under Canada’s Food and Drugs Act, regulate products such as nutritional supplements, probiotics, traditional Chinese medicine, vitamins, herbal remedies, and homeopathy. They are a deliberate shadow of the regulations that govern drug products — requiring some manufacturing quality and safety standards, while effectively removing the standards for product efficacy claims. Standards were dropped because there was no possible way that many of these products could ever meet the rigorous standards established for drug products.
So they dropped the standards to match the quality? That’s scary.
The most problematic in the group was homeopathy. Homeopathy is an elaborate placebo system, where the “remedies” lack active ingredients. As would be expected with inert products, clinical trials confirm what basic science predicts: homeopathy’s effects are placebo effects. Yet Health Canada insists that this doesn’t compromise quality, safety, or efficacy:
Through the Natural Health Products Directorate, Health Canada ensures that all Canadians have ready access to natural health products that are safe, effective and of high quality, while respecting freedom of choice and philosophical and cultural diversity.
Oh dear god are you kidding me. Never mind philosophical and cultural diversity! Inappropriate! There isn’t useful diversity in medical standards and regulations. Poison doesn’t become not poison in a different culture. A glass of water doesn’t become insulin because cultural diversity. If you’re certifying something as effective then you have to use the right – universal – standards.
The consequence? Regulation of the absurd. Health Canada reviews every remedy, and explicitly attests their safety and effectiveness. In Canada you can purchase Health Canada approved (Search each product by number here):
- homeopathic sea water — DIN-HM 80017767
- homeopathic insulin — DIN-HM 80016480
There it is – homeopathic insulin. How many diabetic comas has that caused?
There’s also a homeopathic insect repellent.
For many of us, insect bites are an occasional annoyance that we can largely avoid. Yet insects can transmit over 100 diseases, including malaria, West Nile virus, yellow fever, Dengue fever, Lyme disease and even plague. Malaria alone kills 1.2 million people, mainly African children, annually. And now that we have West Nile and Lyme disease in Canada, there is a bigger impetus to minimize bites.
Yes but respect for freedom of choice and philosophical and cultural diversity is even more important than preventing malaria or West Nile virus. Apparently.