British Columbia

Naturopaths warned about 'potentially harmful' COVID-19 claims after B.C. councillor's post

A Surrey, B.C., city councillor is facing another investigation by the College of Naturopathic Physicians after advertising hundreds of dollars worth of vitamins, booster shots and intravenous therapy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

College of Naturopathic Physicians says any claims about preventing or treating virus are 'inappropriate'

Surrey Coun. Allison Patton was recently disciplined by the College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C. (Safe Surrey Coalition)

A Surrey, B.C., city councillor is facing another investigation by the College of Naturopathic Physicians after advertising hundreds of dollars worth of vitamins, booster shots and intravenous therapy in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coun. Allison Patton, who is also a registered naturopath, shared a message from her clinic offering patients "suggestions regarding the ever-changing status of the COVID-19 pandemic" in a Facebook post this weekend.

The suggestions totalled more than $600 in treatments, including items like an "Immune Supportive Vitamin Boost" for $99 and a $325 "HiDose Ozone/UVBI IV" treatment, in which blood is drawn, injected with ozone and exposed to UV light before being transfused back into the body. Patton wrote that these treatments "could help strengthen our systems so we may stay as healthy as possible."

Patton's Facebook post has since been deleted, but her professional college has responded.

The College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C. issued a notice to the public on Tuesday, making it clear that "any statements by naturopathic doctors about the prevention and/or treatment of COVID-19, beyond the information made available by the public health authorities, are inappropriate, potentially harmful, and likely to violate" college policies on false and misleading advertising.

The public notice says that when the college is notified, "such statements will be forwarded to the inquiry committee for investigation."

In a Facebook post this weekend, Surrey Coun. Allison Patton advertised more than $600 worth of treatments suggested in response to COVID-19. (Screengrab)

Patton told CBC in an email that she created the Facebook post in response to encouragement from her patients.

"Overnight upon further consideration, in advance of the College of Naturopathic Physicians of B.C.'s recommendations and support to naturopathic doctors, based on the current environment I felt it was best to remove the information and I promptly did," Patton said.

This isn't her first time facing scrutiny from the college.

Patton's naturopathic licence was recently suspended for three days after she admitted to campaigning for councillor as a "community physician" without always making it clear she is a naturopath.

Federal government promises 'action'

The college's public notification on advertising follows a similar warning by the College of Chiropractors of B.C. last week in response to a number of chiropractors marketing supplements or spinal manipulations they claimed would build immunity against the novel coronavirus.

According to the federal government, no products or therapies have been approved in Canada to prevent or treat COVID-19.

"Selling unauthorized health products or making false or misleading claims to prevent, treat or cure COVID-19 is illegal in Canada. We take this matter very seriously and we are taking action to stop this activity," the Public Health Agency of Canada says on its website.

If you have a COVID-19-related story we should pursue that affects British Columbians, please email us at impact@cbc.ca.  

About the Author

Bethany Lindsay

Journalist

Bethany Lindsay is a B.C. journalist with a focus on the courts, health, science and social justice issues. Questions or news tips? Get in touch at bethany.lindsay@cbc.ca or on Twitter through @bethanylindsay.

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