St. Francis Herb Farm facing regulatory hurdles

St. Francis Herb Farm, local Canadian success story and trusted manufacturer/supplier of natural health products, may be seriously impacted by proposed changes to Canada’s legislation. Cheryl Gallant, MP Renfrew-Nippissing-Pembroke, met with owners Paul and Caitlin Rivett-Carnac last week to discuss the effect of the new regulations on their business. Following that private meeting, I had the opportunity to meet with the Rivett-Carnacs to discuss their concerns. Above from left: MP Cheryl Gallant, Caitlin Rivett-Carnac, Paul Rivett-Carnac. Photo: Roger Prince.

Paul Rivett-Carnac told The Current that they were concerned about Vanessa’s Law being expanded to include products from the $2.5 billion natural health industry. (Vanessa’s Law was passed in 2014 and is named after Vanessa Young, a 15 year old who died of a heart attack after taking a prescription drug that was later found to be unsafe.) He stated, “The new regulations will drive up costs to consumers, reduce availability for people with health conditions and significantly hamper or prevent new products from being developed.”

Another component of these legislative changes which may increase costs includes the Plain Language Legislation. “The impact increases our consumer packaging costs and does not provide the consumer with any additional information,” Rivett-Carnac said. These new regulations are on top of what is already considered some of the most stringent regulations world-wide.” 

Following the meeting on July 13, MP Gallant said in a media release, “Existing regulations on health supplements already keep Canadians safe…. These unnecessary new regulations put Canadian businesses at a disadvantage.” Click HERE to read MP Gallant’s News Release.

The natural health product industry is a growing industry in Canada. According to Health Canada, there are over 70,000 natural health products available in Canada. The industry includes vitamins, minerals, herbal remedies, homeopathic medicines, traditional medicines such as traditional Chinese medicine and Ayurvedic medicine, probiotics, and other products.

Expanding Vanessa’s Law to natural health products gives Health Canada the ability to regulate foreign made products to meet the same standards that companies such as St. Francis Farm are required to meet. This is an advantage to St. Francis Herb Farm as it creates a level playing field for them with potential foreign competitors. This also gives the Minister the power to recall unsafe natural health products and require companies to do further testing. This helps ensure that natural health products are safe for consumers.

The benefits of natural (homeopathic) products to the health care system are that they can be used as an alternative or complementary treatment for certain conditions. According to Health Canada, homeopathic medicines are regulated as natural health products under the Natural Health Products Regulations.

Gallant went on to say, “This new red tape is about pushing small and medium-sized manufactures out of business instead of protecting Canadians.”

In a discussion with federal officials, The Current was told, “The impact of Health Canada’s Cost recovery initiative on small companies in the industry is that it minimizes the impact of fees on small businesses.” At this time, we have not received an understanding on the requirements for these reductions or what type of company might benefit.

The benefits of these changes are that they will help ensure that natural health products are safe for consumers. By giving Health Canada and the Minister of Health the power to recall unsafe natural health products and require companies to do further testing, consumers can have more confidence in the safety of these products.

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