The makers of a nutritional supplement sold as a treatment for mental disorders says Health Canada has put lives at risk by seizing its product at the Canada-U.S. border.
Twenty-two shipments of the supplement, EMPowerplus, were seized in Surrey, B.C., on July 24, just days before an Alberta judge ruled in favour of its maker, TrueHope Nutritional Support, following a lengthy court battle with Health Canada.
Anthony Stephan, one of the founders of TrueHope, said Thursday he wants federal Health Minister Tony Clement to intervene, adding his company is prepared to go to court again to make sure its clients get the supplement.
"We're asking Health Canada to begin to look very seriously at the human rights issue here, that these people have the right to take this [supplement]."
Health Canada has not commented on the seizure.
Judge rules in favour of TrueHope
EMPowerplus is a vitamin and mineral supplement marketed as an alternative treatment for people with conditions such as bi-polar disorder and depression. The supplement is made in the U.S. and shipped into Canada.
Three years ago, Health Canada began a legal battle with TrueHope over the supplement, asking the court to stop the company from distributing the product.
Health Canada accused the company of selling the medication without a drug identification number, or DIN. The makers of the medication said it wasn't a drug and shouldn't require a DIN.
In his July 28 ruling, provincial court Judge Gerald Meagher said there were no indications Health Canada would have even given TrueHope the identification number needed.
Meagher also said taking EMPowerplus away would pose a considerable threat for the people taking the supplement, including severe relapses and even death.
Health Canada issued a warning against using Empowerplus in 2003.
"Health Canada has identified risks associated with the use of Empowerplus. The safety and efficacy of Empowerplus has not been shown," says a statement still on Health Canada's website.
Ron Reinhold, a former inspector for Health Canada who has written about EMPowerplus, said last week that despite the ruling, he would like to see more research done on the benefits of the product, rather than simple testimonials from users.