International Self-Care Day: Giving Canadians New Tools for their Self-Care Toolbox

OTTAWA, July 24, 2014 /CNW/ - Consumer Health Products Canada (CHP Canada) joins with organizations around the globe in supporting International Self-Care Day.  Launched in 2012 with the Shanghai Declaration, International Self-Care Day celebrates the 24 hours-a-day/7 days-a-week benefits people enjoy from practicing self-care; the actions individuals take every day for themselves and their families to stay healthy and take care of minor and long-term conditions.

"At a time when Canadians are increasingly taking greater control over their own health and governments around the world are recognizing the benefits of supporting self-care as a means of improving health and making health systems more sustainable, International Self-Care Day is an opportunity to recognize that the biggest resource in our health care system is the patient," said Karen Proud, President of Consumer Health Products Canada.  "Over 80% of all health care is self-care.  It is the true front line of our health care system," she added.

Consumer health products such as over-the-counter medicines (OTCs) and natural health products (NHPs) are an important part of the self-care toolbox for Canadians. Canadian studies have shown that adding new OTCs and NHPs to that toolbox by switching selected prescription drugs to nonprescription status not only gives Canadians more control over their own health, it saves the health care system money by reducing unnecessary doctor visits and prescription dispensing fees. "When the evidence shows that a given prescription drug can be safely and effectively used by consumers to treat minor ailments, making that switch to OTC or NHP status is good for patients and it's good for the health care system," added Ms. Proud.

Until recently, Canadians have had to wait seven to eight years longer than their American or British counterparts to get access to new OTCs through the prescription to OTC switch process.  This is because of regulatory red tape that has held up the switch process after the thorough review of product safety and effectiveness has been carried out by Health Canada officials. In 2012, however, the Government of Canada addressed this issue through a Red Tape Reduction initiative announced in Economic Action Plan 2012.  Without making any changes to the safety review conducted by Health Canada scientists, these measures have dramatically reduced the delays Canadians had been experiencing in gaining access to new medicines.  As a result of this initiative, Canadians will gain access to six new OTC medicines for the treatment of allergies, minor aches and pains, skin conditions, heartburn and hair loss within the next six months, after having seen only two such switches in the previous five years.

"The consumer health products industry is very proud of the contribution our products make to Canadian self-care and to the sustainability of the health care system," said Annie Beauchemin, Director, Consumer Healthcare at Boehringer Ingelheim (Canada) Ltd. and Chair of CHP Canada's Board of Directors. "The industry's quick response to these regulatory improvements shows how reducing red tape can spur innovation and give Canadians new self-care options."

More recently, Minister of Health Rona Ambrose announced the launch this fall of consultations on a new consumer health products regulatory framework.  CHP Canada looks forward to working closely with Health Canada to ensure that this framework supports evidence-based self-care by protecting patient safety while removing red tape that acts as a barrier to consumer health product access.

About CHP Canada
Consumer Health Products Canada is a 118 year-old trade association representing the consumer health products industry, including the manufacturers of natural health products and over-the-counter remedies.

SOURCE Consumer Health Products Canada/CHP Canada

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Consumer Health Products Canada
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E-mail: gerry.harrington@chpcanada.ca
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