"Counterfeit health products might also contain hidden ingredients not listed on the label, dangerous additives and/or contaminated ingredients," Health Canada said in a statement. "In addition, they may lack the active ingredients Canadians would expect them to contain to help them maintain and improve their health. For all of these reasons, they could cause serious health effects."
Consumers should read the label of the products they buy to verify that the products have been assessed by Health Canada, health officials said.
"Health products that have been authorized for sale by Health Canada will have an eight-digit Drug Identification Number, a Homeopathic Medicine Number or a Natural Product Number on the label," the statement said.
Some natural health products may have an Exemption Number that indicates the product is legally available for sale while Health Canada is reviewing its application for licensing.
"Canadians should be especially careful when purchasing health products online, particularly from sites that offer to provide prescription drugs without requiring you to be seen in-person by a healthcare professional," Health Canada said. "This should raise questions about the quality of the product you are buying and whether it is potentially harmful."