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Food and Drugs Act (formal title An Act respecting food, drugs, cosmetics and therapeutic devices) is an Act of the Parliament of Canadamarker regarding the production, import, export, transport across provinces and sale of food, drugs, contraceptive devices and cosmetics (including personal cleaning products such as soap and toothpaste). It was first passed in 1920 and most recently revised in 1985. It attempts to ensure that these products are safe, that their ingredients are disclosed and that drugs are effective and are not sold as food or cosmetics. It also states that cures for Schedule A diseases (the most serious, including cancer), cannot be advertised to the general public.

Parts III and IV

Parts III (enacted in 1961) and IV (enacted in 1969) provided for implementation of controls required by the Convention on Psychotropic Substances. Part III dealt with "controlled" drugs such as amphetamine, methaqualone, and phenmetrazine, which have legitimate medical uses. Part IV focused on Schedule H "restricted drugs", those whose only legitimate use is for scientific research, such as the hallucinogens LSD, DMT, and MDA. These Parts established eight classes of regulated substances, ranging from Schedules A to H.

The 1996 Controlled Drugs and Substances Act repealed Parts III and IV

2008 Proposed Amendment

On April 2008, an amendment to the Food and Drugs Act, Canadian Bill C-51 was tabled in the House of Commons. The purpose of this bill was to modernize the regulatory system for foods and therapeutic products, to strengthen the oversight of the benefits and risks of therapeutic products throughout their life cycle, to support effective compliance and enforcement actions and to enable a greater transparency and openness of the regulatory system. Some of the proposed amendments are as follows:

  • Illegalize the sale and importation of products that have knowingly been adulterated.


  • Illegalize the sale of counterfeit therapeutic products.


  • Clarify in the Food and Drugs Act the requirement of therapeutic products to have market authorization, which has been required by Health Canada for many years.


The bill has been subject to criticism due to a perception that the bill would illegalize all food and Natural Health Products by categorizing them as drug products. Natural health products have not been regulated as drugs since the Natural Health Products Regulations were put into place on January 1, 2004. Health Canada has stated “The Natural Health Product Regulations, introduced in 2004, will continue to operate the same way under Bill C-51. Canadians will continue to have access to natural health products that are safe, effective and of high quality.”

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