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Health Canada says sale of rabid dog saliva homeopathic remedy unauthorized

A homeopathic remedy made with the saliva of rabid dogs will no longer be available in the country, Health Canada said.
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A homeopathic remedy made with the saliva of rabid dogs will no longer be available in the country, Health Canada said.

An investigation was launched after concerns were raised over a Victoria naturopath's treatment of a four-year-old boy with lyssin, which British Columbia's health officer said could put patients at risk of contracting rabies.

Health Canada said in a statement Monday that lyssin, distributed by Helious Homeopathy in the United Kingdom, is not authorized for sale in the country and the individual involved has agreed to stop selling the product.

In an earlier statement, the federal agency said the company where the naturopath allegedly obtained the product does not hold a licence to distribute the ingredient.

The sale of unlicensed natural health products is prohibited and could result in a $5,000 fine or up to three years in prison, the agency said.

Practitioner Anke Zimmermann detailed her use of lyssin in a blog post earlier this year as a success for the treatment of a boy's sleep and behavioural problems.

In an earlier interview, Zimmermann had likened the remedy to anti-venom, which may use a small dose of venom to treat a snake bite.

She said while the remedy begins with saliva that contains rabies, she doesn't believe any virus remains in the sugar pill, after an extensive process of dilution.

The B.C. Association of Homeopaths also defended the use of the product in a letter to the provincial health officer.

"The end product doesn't bear any toxicity or infectious elements that would be a threat to the public," the association said in the letter.

But Health Canada said it will "take further action, if necessary, should any additional non-compliance or risk to health be identified."

The agency added that the College of Naturopathic Physicians of British Columbia has also been informed.

Zimmermann isn't a member of the college, but it laid a complaint against her after the blog became public, claiming she may have breached the association's code of conduct and her actions reflects on the organization.

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. A previous version said the a blog post was made earlier this month.