Fact Sheet - Health Canada Risk Communication Products

In May 2006, Health Canada introduced two new communications products to better inform Canadians about potential risks to their health. The Information Update and the Foreign Product Alert provide the Department with vehicles to tell the public about important but less urgent issues than is intended with the existing Public Warning and Public Advisory. Each of the four products has a specific use and a different method of dissemination.

Public Warning

This product is used in the most urgent situations when there is a high probability that the use of, or exposure to, a product will cause death or other serious adverse health effects, such that the public should stop using the product immediately. Warnings are sent to the media through Canada News Wire, are posted on the Health Canada website and are distributed through the MedEffect electronic bulletin (when marketed health products such as pharmaceuticals, biologics, natural health products or medical devices are involved) and the Health Canada media e-mail list.

Public Advisory

This product is used to inform the public of possible serious health hazards and enable Canadians to make informed decisions concerning the continued use of consumer and marketed health products. Advisories are issued through the same channels as Warnings.

Information Update

This new product is used when there is information to be conveyed about a product that carries a lower level of risk or that affects a very small group of people. The Information Update may also be used to indicate the progress of Health Canada's review of a risk situation or to reinforce safety recommendations previously issued. Information Updates are posted on the Health Canada website and distributed using the Health Canada media e-mail list and through MedEffect when marketed health products are involved. Updates may also be issued through Canada News Wire when warranted.

Foreign Product Alert

This new web-based communication product advises consumers of health risks related to foreign products not authorized for sale in Canada and not found on the Canadian marketplace, but which may have entered the country through personal importation or by purchase over the Internet. An e-mail notice is sent to the Health Canada media list when a new product is added to the Foreign Product Alert page on the Health Canada website.

To view Health Canada's Warnings, Advisories, Information Updates and Foreign Product Alerts please visit the Health Canada Home Page

To subscribe to MedEffect visit: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/dhp-mps/medeff/subscribe-abonnement/index-eng.php

To subscribe to the Health Canada Media News Service visit: http://www. hc-sc.gc.ca/ahc-asc/media/sub-abonn/index-eng.php

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Media Inquiries:
Christopher Williams
Health Canada
(613) 946-4250

Public Inquiries:
(613) 957-2991
1-866 225-0709

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