Is Health Canada really this corrupt? This misguided? Both?

A tip of the hat to Tom for sending me the links to the following information regarding the lawsuit between Zen Cigarette (formerly located in Montreal) and Health Canada.

First of all from the Zen site and its president Vincent Deblois:

A year ago, following the publication of Journal de Montréal’s article exposing our troubles with Health Canada, I received an anonymous phone call from someone claiming to be linked to Health Canada. That person informed me that at least one of the companies who manufacture nicotine patches and nicotine gum was putting internal pressure on Health Canada to keep electronic cigarettes containing nicotine, like the Zen eCig, from being commercialized. As I didn’t have any evidence in support of this information back then, I didn’t act on the tip. But I have now gathered enough information and evidence to expose preferential treatment and other seemingly corrupt practices within Health Canada. (See the posting for the rest of this letter).

In a nutshell Zen’s appeal was dismissed while a pharmaceutical product roughly similar to e-cigarettes was approved.

In Zen Cigarette versus Health Canada we have further evidence that HC either does not understand e-cigarettes or willingly ignores the similarities between them and inhalers (and the ongoing absurdity of foisting a description of the purpose of using e-cigarettes that makes sense only if you consider smoking as a disease rather than a behavior). I will pull out a few gems from the document.

  Health Canada compares electronic cigarettes to a Nicorette inhaler, the only nicotine inhalation system approved by the Department. Nicorette cartridges contain 10 mg of nicotine and deliver 40% of its content, that is, 4 mg. Assuming that electronic cigarette cartridges deliver the same percentage, Health Canada claims that the electronic cigarettes sold by Zen would deliver 7.2 mg per dosage unit (Respondent’s Record, Thea Christa Mueller’s affidavit, page 144, paragraph 21).

 [34]           Furthermore, Doctor Mueller found that the electronic cigarettes sold by Zen deliver a higher percentage of nicotine than Nicorette inhalers:

The above calculation is conservative, given the two distinct modes of nicotine delivery represented by the Nicorette Inhaler on the one hand and the e-cigarette on the other. . . . The nicotine delivered by the e-cigarette is generated by devices that are activated by the inhalation of the user. In particular, e-cigarettes operate by way of an electric circuit that vapourizes nicotine. This process creates the potential for delivering much higher amounts of nicotine than what would be possible with a passive form of delivery such as a [Nicorette] inhaler. . . . This line of reasons suggests that the 18mg nicotine Zen e-cigarette cartridge delivers much more nicotine than the conservative estimate of 7.2mg. (Thea Christa Mueller’s affidavit at paragraph 22).

1. In the latter part it is claimed that e-cigarettes could deliver greater amounts “per dose” than inhalers because the latter are a passive system and yet earlier it is stated that it is reasonable to assume that e-cigarettes would deliver the same percentage of the total content of the unit.  Sounds as though there is a bit of a contradiction there.

2. Is Health Canada not aware that whether smoking or vaping (or using inhalers), the user determines the dose?  Even Nicorette Inhalers are described as

 You will get less nicotine from each puff on the inhalator than you would from a puff on a cigarette, so you may need to inhale from the inhalator more often than you would with a cigarette to get the same amount of nicotine. It is up to you how many inhalations you take, how often you take them and for how long.

3. If they are going to stick with their methods of calculation it seems according to the same Nicorette information that the cartridges now come in 15 mg sizes which applying the same logic the 40% would take us over Health Canada’s 4mg per dose limit.

And to return to the court document on of the most absurd statements (and not unique to this document is:

The Court, after reviewing the evidence submitted by each party, agrees that electronic cigarettes meet the definition of a drug contained in paragraph 2(a) of the Act because Zen promotes them for the treatment of the addiction to nicotine. Electronic cigarettes can therefore be used [translation] “to treat . . . a disease”, in this case, the addiction to nicotine.

Health Canada is pushing every possible argument to maintain their jurisdiction over this product.  We have already read before the argument that because nicotine modifies organic function (like anything you put in your body) it should be classified as a drug and now we have again the argument that is is a drug because it treats addiction.

To make this argument you would have to argue that smokers are treating their addiction to nicotine.  So to take that even further then addiction to nicotine must be a preexisting condition – you started smoking in the first place to treat your addiction.

I am not sure what there is to say that has already not been said about these tired and useless arguments from an agency that is betraying the public trust.  Health Canada employees should be forced to write on a blackboard a hundred times “I will do what is best for the health of Canadians.”  The forces against e-cigarettes are not backing down despite the obvious evidence that vaping is the best alternative to smoking to date.  It is up to Health Canada to determine whether we will move to lower rates of smoking related disease soon or whether by remaining tobacco control darlings we will become the laughing stock of  the civilized world.

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