Bad NHP marketing, NNHPD advocacy, Live Talks and more
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Fighting Deceptive Marketing

In the fall, we restarted a research project to try to answer a question about the sellers of Natural Health Products (NHPs): are they marketing their products in ways that align with their Health Canada licenses as permitted under the Food and Drugs Act (FDA)?  Having noticed the dubious ways that fake homeopathic vaccines had been marketed in the past, we were concerned that the 60,000 plus licensed products were slipping through the cracks at the under-resourced Marketed Health Products Directorate (MHPD). The MHPD is the enforcement arm at Health Canada that investigates complaints, so we thought we would gather data and complain, if necessary.

Last fall, our team of volunteer researchers designed a pilot study to flesh out our methodology. As a way of focusing our study on the most serious of advertising missteps, we are using the disease keywords developed from schedule A of the FDA that lists diseases that you cannot sell cures or treatment for without a license.  For the pilot study we are just using the keyword ‘cancer” to test our study design and, starting in February, we will be evaluating the 179 Gb of website data we have collected.

Investigations like this are difficult, and they have never been attempted before. Bad Science Watch will be forwarding any findings to the MHPD so they can clamp down on bad advertising.  We already had success with our homeopathic flu remedies report a few years ago, and we think with some hard work we can help to keep the sellers of NHPs at least somewhat honest.

We need many volunteers to help as study evaluators. No research experience is necessary and you will receive some quick training and be able to give as many or as few hours as you can spare. Contact volunteer.coordinator@badsciencewatch.ca for more information.

NNHPD Consultation Update

Our submission to the NNHPD public consultation was sent in in early October  and shared with our supporters prior to the deadline.  The hard work of our volunteers paid off: we managed to convince over 150 other Canadians to participate in the development of new framework for the licensing of non-prescription, and natural health products, and cosmetics. Thanks to all of you who added your voice!

It is clear that the main lobby group for health food stores across Canada, the Canadian Health Food Association, is afraid of the new turn that the Non-prescription and Natural Health Product Directorate (NNHPD) may be making. All over Ottawa during October and November were ads touting the difference of NHPs to drugs and arguing that they should therefore be regulated differently (see right).  The pressure that the CHFA is putting on the bureaucrats and MPs in Ottawa is similar to the pressure they exerted in previous attempts to apply science to NHPs; in 2008 with Bill C-51, and in 2014 with Vanessa’s Law. We remain the only non-industry consumer group in Canada that is arguing for more stringent and science-based recommendations, while groups like the CHFA spread misinformation about these efforts.

We are designing our own pressure program to remind MPs that industry should not run the show, and that Canadians need a strong regulatory framework to beat back the charlatans trying to sell snake oil to Canadians. If you would like to help with this campaign, please contact us at volunteer.coordinator@badsciencewatch.ca

 


This advert was spotting in the Ottawa airport in November of 2016. It illustrates the deceptive messaging that lobbyists are using to persuade government officials that NHPs do not need more stringent regulations.

Volunteer Profile

Kristen Simkus, BSc MPH 



Why did you join Bad Science Watch?
I first found out about Bad Science Watch in 2013 when I heard about their work with the Stop Nosodes campaign. As an infectious disease epidemiologist, I’ve seen first-hand the importance and effectiveness of immunization in preventing the spread of dangerous diseases. I’ve also seen first-hand the impact of misinformation and false health claims in reducing immunization rates, leading to the spread (and outbreaks) of preventable diseases. I joined Bad Science Watch to become involved in the fight against the spread of false health product marketing, and advocate for science- and evidence-based health policy in Canada.
 
What do you find most rewarding about your work with BSW?
I love that we are an organization of volunteers. Some of us have medical or science backgrounds. Some of us don’t. But we all have a passion for science, and we come with a great diversity of skills and knowledge to advance our work. As volunteers, we join forces to act as an opposing voice to lobby groups and organizations who, in contrast to us, often have financial interests in the spread of misinformation and pseudoscience.

How do you think your work will impact Canadians?
I’m currently working on the Natural Health Product (NHP) Marketing project. This project has been a great opportunity to participate in research that will be shared directly with federal regulators so that corrective action can be taken to protect Canadians.

Bad Science Watch LIVE

Bad Science Watch executive director Michael Kruse will be presenting a new talk entitled Empathy and Science Advocacy for several groups this winter. Michael joined the Cape Ann Skeptics via net conference on January 17th 2017 to preview the presentation and and will be in Calgary in February to deliver the full talk. 

Description

When we are faced with the irrational and conspiratorial claims of the alternative medicine community the science minded community often responds with anger, incredulity and frustration. Sometimes, these messages are not from the easy targets of the fringe but from our own family and friends. But how often has our argumentative response been effective? It is worth taking a look at, not only our goals and our tactics, but our audience as well.  We know that psychological phenomena like the backfire effect combine with ideological anti-corporate attitudes to work against any rational arguments, we have seen it happen time and again. This was the state of frustration we were in when we started Bad Science Watch. We made a decision to think about our audience and set goals focused on making real change.  This talk will focus on the role that empathy plays in picking targets and setting goals and the success we have had in creating a message that has resonated with our audience and supporters.

Confirmed Dates

February 4th, 2017 at the University of Calgary, presented by Centre for Inquiry
March 7th, 2017 at the University of Toronto, presented by the U of T Secular Students Association
Date TBA in Kitchener-Waterloo, presented by the Southern Ontario Free-Thinkers Association

An email will be sent out closer to the date reminding you of specific details so you can join the conversation about science advocacy in Canada.

Canadian Science Policy Conference: Update

Executive Director Michael Kruse attended this year’s Canadian Science Policy Conference in Ottawa in November and came back with a wealth of knowledge, both in evidence-based policy making and in government relations.  The three day conference included sessions on systems based approaches to EBDM as well as science communications as a strategy for EBDM and this work will be supporting our future efforts to communicate effectively and make change in government.

French Translation Continues

We are continuing the translation of the website. We had some glitches in September that set us back, but the project is well underway and we should be beta-testing it soon!

 

Help Support
Bad Science Watch

To remain independent, we are funded only by individual donations from supporters like you.  We need your continuing support to be able to connect with the bureaucrats and politicians in Ottawa and our supporters across the country. If you believe in our mission, go to our fundraising page now and sign up as a monthly donor!

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