Health Canada seizes unauthorized products from Richmond store

For at least the third time since 2019, Health Canada has issued a warning about unauthorized health products seized from a Richmond business.

The nine products in question were for sale at Tokyo Beauty and Healthcare and labelled for a variety of uses

Three of the products are intended for eye care, two for eczema and rash relief, and one each for cold relief, wart removal, heartburn and anemia, according to Health Canada.

All of the products were seized for containing ingredients not approved by Health Canada for the promoted use.

“Selling unauthorized health products in Canada is illegal,” reads the warning on the federal agency’s website.

“Unauthorized health products have not been approved by Health Canada, which means that they have not been assessed for safety, efficacy and quality and may pose a range of serious health risks.”

One of the seized products, “Baibao Neng Gold A for Relief of Cold Symptoms,” is labelled to contain dihydrocodeine phosphate, an opioid similar to codeine, according to Health Canada.

“Although codeine is approved in Canada, Health Canada has not authorized any drug products containing dihydrocodeine,” the warning reads.

“Dihydrocodeine tablets are approved in certain countries for the relief of severe and chronic pain or as cough suppressants. Common adverse reactions include dizziness, headache, vertigo, visual disturbances, confusion, euphoria, nausea, and constipation. As with all opioids, use of dihydrocodeine may lead to drug dependence.”

Health Canada previously seized unauthorized products from Tokyo Beauty and Healthcare’s 8191 Westminster Hwy. location in March 2021 and in February 2019.  

The agency also seized unauthorized drugs from a Tokyo Beauty store in Burnaby’s Metrotown mall in July 2021. The two locations have the same owner, Health Canada said at the time.

This is the first time the agency has reported seizing an unauthorized product that contained an opioid from a Tokyo Beauty location.

CTV News contacted the City of Richmond to inquire about the store’s business licence and whether it’s considering any punitive action in this case.

“Criminality and health-related concerns are definitely considered in assessing whether the city would suspend or seek to cancel a business licence,” the city said in an email.

“City staff were not made aware of this investigation/inspection by health officials in advance or afterwards, but will follow up to determine what action may be appropriate.”

CTV News also reached out to Health Canada Tuesday. The federal agency responded by email on Friday.

“Health Canada has taken compliance and enforcement action against Tokyo Beauty and Healthcare due to the sale of unauthorized health products,” the statement reads.

“Health Canada actions to date include conducting several site visits, seizing unauthorized health products, issuing a warning letter to the business notifying them of their violation of the Food and Drugs Act and requesting corrective actions, and publishing advisories to inform the public of products that may pose serious risks to health.”

The agency said it has “an active case” regarding the company and “will not comment” on any further compliance or enforcement actions under consideration.

Health Canada added that it takes the issue of unauthorized health products seriously and encourages the public to report “potential non-compliant sale or advertising of such products” using its online complaint form

It also said the primary objective of its compliance and enforcement efforts is “to manage the risks to Canadians using the most appropriate level of intervention based on the risk posed to the general public.”

Health Canada does not have the authority to issue administrative monetary penalties, but can make referrals to law enforcement and refer cases to the Public Prosecution Service of Canada for potential prosecution “where appropriate.”

“The courts have the sole discretion to impose penalties,” the agency said. 

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