As part of a city-wide flu pandemic preparedness plan, the Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta, has purchased and put into reserve thousands of bottles of Canada’s leading natural cold and flu treatment COLD-fX® for future use by the city’s emergency workers.1
COLD-fX, a patented, chemically distinct fraction of polysaccharides derived from American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius, Araliaceae) roots, is marketed as an immune-enhancing dietary supplement in the United States and as a nonprescription natural health product in Canada. In February of 2007, the Canadian government’s Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD), a division of Health Canada, approved the following claim for COLD-fX: “helps reduce the frequency, severity and duration of cold and flu symptoms by boosting the immune system.”2
“This is one more tool we can add to our pandemic preparedness toolkit,” said Bob Black, director of Edmonton’s Office of Emergency Preparedness, in a press release from CV Technologies, the Edmonton-based manufacturer of COLD-fX.1 “There are so many unknowns in planning for a possible pandemic that anything we can do to be prepared makes sense. As cities across North America consider the challenges associated with a pandemic, we need to take every reasonable precaution to help our emergency personnel stay on the job, so they can help others.”
Edmonton, the sixth largest city in Canada, has had a general public health emergency contingency plan in place since 2003 and employs one full-time staff person to work exclusively on a city-wide plan for efficiently responding to a possible future pandemic.
According to the new arrangement, CV Technologies will reserve a supply of 10,000 bottles of COLD-fX for emergency use by key city officials (including police, firefighters, and emergency medical personnel) through a cost-sharing arrangement with the city of Edmonton.1 Rather than storing a set amount of COLDfX—which has a shelf life of 5 years—the company has guaranteed that enough product to treat 5,000 people over a period of 8 weeks will be available to the city during a pandemic.3 According to news reports, the city was not asked to pay the full retail price for the product (about $250,000) and has purchased the COLDfX for approximately $120,000.4,5
The arrangement between CV Technologies and the city of Edmonton has generally been viewed favorably in the media. Multiple articles have stressed the uniqueness of the situation, pointing out that Edmonton has become the first municipality in North America to stockpile COLD-fX for this purpose.4,6 An article in the national Canadian newspaper Globe and Mail quoted Mr. Black as stating, “It may make the difference between us having essential service workers on the road or not.”6 An article from CBC News explained that Edmonton’s medical officer of health Gerry Predy, MD, acknowledged that there is clinical evidence that COLD-fX does have an effect on preventing viral infections of various types.4 Dr. Predy was the lead investigator on a large (n = 323 subjects), Phase 3, randomized, controlled clinical trial conducted on COLD-fX, which shows that the phytomedicine was effective in preventing upper respiratory tract infections in people who had had at least 2 colds in the previous year.7 The CBC News article also states, however, that there is no evidence that COLDfX would be effective at treating avian flu, which many scientists believe has the potential to become a pandemic.4 A column in the Edmonton Sun openly criticized the plan, arguing that it might just be a costly way for the city to provide the local company with good publicity, in light of recent corporate struggles.5
Jacqueline Shan, PhD, DSc, president, CEO and chief scientific officer of CV Technologies, has argued that COLD-fX could be valuable during a pandemic by providing additional protection to emergency workers.1 “Vaccines may also offer some protection. However current vaccines are not likely to be completely effective if a virus mutates, which is what medical experts fear might happen with the avian flu virus,” Dr. Shan said.1 She also pointed out that it generally takes between four to six months to develop an effective vaccine after a virus strikes. “During this time, COLDfX may help provide additional protection to front line workers by enhancing their immune systems.”
The American Botanical Council (ABC) recently published a monograph of the published scientific and clinical studies on the health benefits of COLD-fX, also known by its scientific code name, CVT-E002.8
- Edmonton becomes first urban centre in North America to stockpile COLD-fX® for police, fire and paramedics as part of influenza pandemic preparedness plans [press release]. Edmonton, Canada: CV Technologies; April 23, 2007.
- Herb experts report on benefits of Canadian remedy for cold and flu symptoms [press release]. Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; March 1, 2007.
- Landry F. City puts flu fighter into pandemic plan. Edmonton Sun. April 24, 2007;19.
- Edmonton to stockpile Cold-fX. CBC News. April 24, 2007. Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2007/04/24/cold-fx-edmonton. html. Accessed May 4, 2007.
- Kiotte K. Preposterous pandemic plan. Edmonton Sun. April 26, 2007;11.
- Walton D. Edmonton stockpiles ginseng extract for essential staff. Globe and Mail. April 25, 2007;L9.
- Predy GN, Goel V, Lovlin R, et al. Efficacy of an extract of North American ginseng containing poly-furanosyl-pyranosyl-saccharides for preventing upper respiratory tract infections: a randomized controlled trial. Canadian Med Association J. 2005;173:1043–1048.
- Barrett B, Brown D. Therapeutic monograph and clinical overview for CVT-E002 (COLD-fX). Austin, TX: American Botanical Council; 2007.