Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate

The Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate is the Canadian regulating authority for:

  • natural health products
  • non-prescription drugs

On this page

What we do

We authorize natural health products and non-prescription drugs for sale in Canada and ensure that Canadians have ready access to a wide range of products for which safety, efficacy and quality standards are in place.

Natural Health Products

Natural health products (NHPs) are naturally occurring substances that are used to restore or maintain good health. They are often made from plants, but can also be made from animals, microorganisms and marine sources. They come in a wide variety of forms, such as tablets, capsules, tinctures, solutions, creams, ointments and drops.

Under the Natural Health Products Regulations, natural health products are defined as:

  • vitamins and minerals
  • herbal remedies
  • homeopathic medicines
  • traditional medicines such as traditional Chinese medicines
  • probiotics
  • other products, such as amino acids and essential fatty acids

Non-prescription Drugs

Non-prescription drugs are pharmaceutical drug products that are available to consumers without a prescription from a healthcare professional. In Canada, they are generally available to consumers at pharmacies or stores but could also require the assistance of a pharmacist.

Examples include:

  • over-the-counter drugs: analgesics, cough and cold remedies, antacids, laxatives
  • behind-the-counter drugs: emergency birth control drugs, certain heartburn drugs
  • disinfectants: hard surface disinfectants, such as those for countertops.

Office and bureaus

The directorate comprises one office and five bureaus:

Bureau of Licensing Services and Systems

The Bureau of Licensing Services and Systems manages submissions for natural health products, including:

  • screening, review and authorization of product and site licences
  • authorizing clinical trials
  • conducting pre-submission meetings with stakeholders
  • providing technical support for submissions

Bureau of Product Review and Assessment

The Bureau of Product Review and Assessment is responsible for reviewing and approving natural health products and non-prescription drugs for:

  • safety and efficacy
  • product labelling

Bureau of Strategic Planning and Business Services

The Bureau of Strategic Planning and Business Services is responsible for:

  • correspondence
  • coordination of planning
  • program evaluation and performance measurement
  • procurement and finance
  • administration services

Bureau of Program Policy, Risk Management and Stakeholder Engagement

The Bureau of Program Policy, Risk Management and Stakeholder Engagement is responsible for:

  • developing and updating policies and guidance on natural health products and non-prescription drugs
  • supporting actions in response to identified product risks
  • establishing and maintaining relationships with stakeholders 

Bureau of Consumer Health Product Modernization

The Bureau of Consumer Health Product Modernization is responsible for modernizing the regulation of self-care products, including natural health products, cosmetics and over-the-counter drugs in Canada.

For more information

General Information

Licensing

Contact us

General Enquiries
Natural and Non-prescription Health Products Directorate
Health Products and Food Branch
Health Canada
250 Lanark Avenue
Address Locator 2002B
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0K9 (Canada Post delivery including Xpress Post)
K1Z 1G4 (Courier service excluding Xpress Post)
E-mail: NNHPD_DPSNSO@hc-sc.gc.ca

Phone: 613-960-8827

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