Natural health products back on political agenda

Pharmacy Today

Wednesday 17 October 2018, 02:17 PM

Aaron van Delden

 

Health minister David Clark has asked for advice on new legislation for natural health products.

Currently, natural health products are controlled as medicines or under Dietary Supplements Regulations 1985.

Industry group Natural Health Products NZ has been a vocal proponent of the need to update the legislation, which it sees as an impediment to business.

Dr Clark was not available for an interview, but, in a statement to Pharmacy Today, confirms: “The Government has agreed to develop legislation of its own on this matter.”

Dr Clark would not be drawn on a time frame for the new legislation, saying only that he has asked Ministry of Health staff for advice on “the best way forward”.

“I’m yet to receive this advice,” he says.

In June, New Zealand First list MP Mark Patterson submitted a member’s bill to replace the Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill which lapsed shortly before last year’s election and was not reinstated when Parliament resumed.

But Mr Patterson has since withdrawn his bill, after he was contacted by the minister’s office and told the ministry was already working on new rules for natural health products.

Mr Patterson says his bill, the Food (Health Supplements) Amendment Bill, sought to simplify the legislation proposed in the Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill, which was introduced to Parliament by former health minister Jonathan Coleman in 2011.

Dr Coleman’s bill would have put in place manufacturing standards for locally produced and imported natural health products, and allowed evidence-backed health claims to be made about the products. Current legislation does not allow health claims to be made about dietary supplements.

Deputy prime minister and New Zealand First leader Winston Peters was critical of Dr Coleman’s bill in the run-up to last year’s election, calling it “regulatory overkill” and saying, in a press release, the regulation of natural health products was “adequately provided for under other legislation”.

Mr Patterson says his bill was developed in consultation with the New Zealand First caucus and supported by party members, but it’s good the Government has taken up the matter.

Natural Health Products NZ reported exports of natural health products were worth $285 million in 2014, and it put the industry’s annual value to the economy at $1.4 billion.

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