How Did We Arrive Where We Are Today?

“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”

—Martin Niemöller


Today in Canada, the natural health industry is in the fight of its life. Health Canada is proposing new regulatory requirements that will not only burden the industry with significant additional costs, but will likely force many smaller and medium sized businesses out of the industry completely. The outcry concerning these proposed requirements is loud and indignant. Right now, the biggest players in the Canadian natural health scene are trying to rally support from the Canadian people in order to prevent these changes from taking place. Unfortunately, they may be far too late to the party.

This situation did not occur overnight. The natural health industry has suffered a thousand cuts over the last few decades, and the ones holding the knives are most certainly seeking its death. If one looks far enough back, they will see how over time the industry has suffered incremental injuries from those who would see the complete eradication of natural health in favour of pharmaceutical modalities.

Over the course of the last few newsletters, we have discussed the origins and growth of the allopathic medical industry and the far-reaching catastrophic effects of drugging entire societies. The natural health industry has traditionally stood opposed to the singular treatment of pharmaceutical drugs. Offering an alternative to the host of known side effects that every synthetic drug presents, natural health products have suffered much malignment and derision at the hands of the cult of allopathy. While not all natural health products live up to their promises – unfortunately many do not – as a rule they are far less dangerous than pharmaceutical drugs. Properly prescribed drugs is the third leading cause of death in the United States and Europe, after heart disease and cancer.[i]

The pressure upon the natural health industry has not ceased since the publishing of the Flexner Report – a document that was responsible for the closure of over half of the hospitals and medical schools in the United States and complete restructuring of the industry in the early part of the 20th century. It was the restructuring around newly discovered chemicals found in petroleum products that could be refined into patentable drugs that changed the landscape of medicine forever.

In 2004, Natural Health Products Regulations came into force, and natural health products became a sub-class of drug. This legislation caused all natural health products (NHPs) to be subjected to licensing under the benevolent assertion to ensure all NHPs are “safe, effective and of high quality.” [ii] This, unfortunately, has not been the case. High-quality, and there-by safety and efficacy, does not seem to be a requirement in the Canadian natural health industry. Companies that produce health products are not required by law to use the highest quality ingredients available to create their offerings. This becomes apparent when lesser quality natural products create unwanted side effects. A prime example of this short coming can be found in low quality melatonin. Teeth-grinding and night-mares can occur when the melatonin taken is sourced from sub-par ingredients. Another example is calcium when formulated apart from orotic acid. It is more expensive to formulate calcium with orotic acid, but other formulations of calcium can cause plaquing in the brain and arteries. Still, it is not a law that calcium must be formulated with orotic acid.

These regulations have categorically failed in the task of creating an industry filled with “safe, effective and high-quality” health products. What these regulations did do is create a foundational framework by which Health Canada could impose fines and penalties at will.

The latest push by Health Canada seeks to build upon that foundation and impose many more fees and regulations upon the natural health industry. These new regulations will force such a financial burden on companies that only the largest players will be able to continue to thrive in the marketplace, effectively side-lining small and medium sized businesses and forcing them out. The new regulations would see significant changes to licensing, labeling and even a new “right-to-sell” fee that will be imposed annually on every product a company brings to market. They will stifle innovation and creativity and prevent many products from even coming to market as the cost-recovery would break most small businesses. Because you cannot patent naturally occurring compounds, there is no legal protection and therefore already very little incentive to risk the costs associated with bringing new products to the marketplace. Increased regulations will only compound this risk.

The biggest market share holders will make out okay simply because most of the largest players in the natural health industry are owned outright by pharmaceutical companies. Below is a very short list of the more recognizable names in the industry:

  • Pfizer owns:
    • Centrum
    • Emergen-C
    • Caltrate
  • Nestle owns
    • Genestra Brands
    • Garden of Life
    • Douglas Laboratories
    • Pure Encapsulations
  • Bayer owns:
    • One A Day
  • The Carlyle Group owns:
    • Ester C
    • Nature’s Bounty
    • Sundown Naturals
    • Puritan’s Pride

This list is by no means comprehensive (See Graphic below for more information), there are many, many more examples of natural health companies that are owned by pharma. This must mean that big pharma shares a common interest with natural health and fully supports our right to choose our own health modalities and methods of treatment, right? Otherwise, what advantages would owning the most recognizable brand names in the natural health industry create for pharmaceutical companies? We must have been mistaken about the motives and message allopathic medicine has had towards natural medicine for the last hundred years…

The tragedy of the situation is that the few companies within the natural health industry that value integrity and quality over profit will be the ones that suffer the most. Companies that produce the best quality goods often do so at the expense of profits. Usually, their market share is comprised of a smaller, prestige-based set of customers and their costs of goods are higher in order to produce high-quality products. Companies that consider profits over healing will have a far greater chance of surviving the additional financial burdens imposed by regulations.

In the natural health industry, only the best quality products induce therapeutic change. That means that many products made with sub-standard ingredients will fail to deliver the expected results, further harming the reputation of the industry as a whole. As regulations increase the costs of doing business, more and more companies will be forced to compromise on ingredient quality just to keep the lights on. Of course, this trend will only help those in direct competition with natural health – the pharmaceutical industry.

The best time to fight Health Canada’s regulations on natural products was 20 years ago. The next best time is now. This may be the last opportunity to fight for the natural health industry and our freedom to choose how we approach our health. These regulations may very well be the final nails in the coffin for the industry. When the natural alternatives are taken from the market, consumers will have no choice but to go to the pharma owned companies for their natural health products. But, hey, what could possibly go wrong with that?

You Are Powerful – It Is Not Too Late

While organizations like Health Canada and large pharmaceutical companies are certainly giants in our world, do not forget how powerful you are. These organizations would love nothing more than for the citizens of our country to sit on our hands and lament the passing of our health freedoms, but we will not let that happen. Instead, we will voice our objection. One only needs to look at the recent events surrounding a certain beer company or a certain big name chain store to witness the mighty power of the people. Those who make their will known by how they spend their money can affect real change. We, the people, can decide where we invest our resources and there-by create tremendous impact on not only private companies, but society at large. We must decide who is worthy of our hard-earned dollars, and that sometimes takes a little bit of research. Seek out and find companies that align with your views and support them, whether they are the little mom and pop shop down the street or a brand you know is dedicated to affecting real change. Stop supporting companies that are at odds with your priorities and values. Societies shift when the people are united in one voice and speak together with one of the most powerful weapons in our arsenal – our wallets. Together, we can stop the erosion of our health freedoms and ensure that our children will have the freedom to choose their own path to health.

This link below is a post card that can be shared, printed off, filled out and sent to your MP to voice your concern about these changes. This is one way you can help protect the natural health industry:

Endangered Species Postcard FINAL

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