Williams Lake health centre raided for illegal products

Williams Lake health centre raided for illegal products

Owners say they practice alternate preventative medicine

After what the owners of Total Health Centre in Williams Lake are calling a “raid” last month, Health Canada says the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons are continuing to monitor the situation to determine next steps.

Total Health Centre in Williams Lake was the scene of a surprise visit by Mounties and health inspectors on Feb. 22, during which several products, including unauthorized prescription drugs were seized.

According to Health Canada, the products seized included progesterone creams, thyroid and L-dopa capsules and high-dose vitamin D products. Consumers are warned to not use these products.

Health Canada said they were informed of an issue by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of British Columbia, and seized injectable products and unauthorized prescription drugs from the centre.

“Patients who are taking progesterone-containing medications (such as birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy) may be at an increased risk due to their overall progesterone exposure. However, if this unauthorized product contains progesterone cream as labelled, health risks would likely arise after long-term use,” said Health Canada.

Total Health Centre owners Dale and Angie Loewen told the Williams Lake Tribune they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong.

“They told us that we are selling drugs … someone had launched a complaint and that we were selling drugs,” said Angie. “We said we do not sell drugs.”

Instead, they are trying to promote alternative medicine to help people get away from “big pharma” drugs, she said.

The couple said that on the morning of Feb. 22 they received an early morning phone call, asking if they had anything for a headache.

Not long after, they said six RCMP officers and two inspectors arrived at their centre on Yorston Street, above Joey’s Grill.

“We were literally SWAT-teamed and raided,” said Angie, noting they said they were told there had been a complaint about Total Health, which is what caused the law enforcement visit.

“We do not have prescription drugs. We don’t want anything to do with them,” said Dale.

In a press release, Health Canada indicated it had confirmed with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of B.C., as well as the College of Naturopathic Physicians, that neither the owner nor anyone who works for Total Health is licensed to practice medicine or naturopathic medicine.

“The centre was being run by an individual posing as a naturopathic doctor,” said Maryse Durette, a spokesperson for Health Canada.

In response, Angie said her husband has never posed as a naturopathic doctor, but refers to himself as an M.D.

Dale said that he is not registered with the College of Physicians, but instead has a licence with the Medical Council of Canada.

Durette stated, “The practice of medicine and naturopathy is regulated provincially. Health Canada is in contact with the applicable B.C. professional colleges. The B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons has advised Health Canada that they continue to monitor the situation to determine next steps.”

Some of the products, including L-Dopa, an anti-Parkinson’s prescription drug, should be used only under the supervision of a health care professional, said Health Canada, due to a variety of side effects that could occur. Progesterone, contained in several creams seized, is also a prescription drug, and can be associated with serious side effects like blood clots, according to the release.

Products found at Total Health. Health Canada

Health Canada is urging people to not use the products, and consult with a licensed health care professional if they have health concerns; to verify people representing themselves as medical doctors by checking with the College of Physicians or Surgeons or the College of Naturopathic Physicians; report concerns to the College of Physicians or Surgeons; and to read product labels to verify that health products have been authorized for sale by Health Canada.

Health Canada said such products will have an eight-digit Drug Identification Number, Natural Product Number or Homeophathic Drug Number which can be searched via Health Canada’s Drug Product Database and Licensed Natural Health Product Database.

The labels of the seized products indicate they contain ingredients that require a prescription to be sold in Canada, stated the press release.

Unauthorized products, meaning those not approved by Health Canada, are illegal to be sold in Canada.

Dale and Angie said they ordered all the products online, and operate as a ministry on a donation basis — saying they don’t sell their products, and give them by donation to those who need them.

The City of Williams Lake confirmed Monday that the Total Health Centre does not have a business licence.

The couple said the centre is still open, but say their hands are now mostly tied.

Dale calls the regulations “ridiculous and silly,” and said there isn’t anything harmful about what they have, adding he imports many of them from the United States.

“If we buy them in the U.S., they don’t have the DIN number that Health Canada requires,” he said, adding that if the products were so harmful he doesn’t understand why they are readily available online, inside and outside Canada.

They said they have been in operation for 22 years, and they don’t understand the need for the law enforcement intervention.

“We’re saying if this stuff is so terrible, why aren’t they stopping it at the border?”

Health Canada said it is working with Canada Border Services Agency to help prevent future importation of these products.