Natural Health Products Regulations – An Update for Members

Members will know the current regulations governing the sector are shockingly out-of-date and the industry has been calling for a modern regulatory regime over the past 20 years.

More than two decades have passed since the industry first began agitating for updated regulations.  The Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill was introduced a decade ago but languished on the Order Paper for many years. It finally lapsed when the new Parliament did not adopt it, following the coalition government taking office in late 2017.

In a meeting last week that included the Minister of Health Andrew Little, Director General of Health Dr Ashley Bloomfield, and representatives from the Minister for Trade and Export Growth O’Connor and Associate Minister of Health Verrall’s offices, we were incredibly disappointed to learn that the Therapeutic Products Bill (that includes Natural Health Products regulations) has been further delayed and will not be introduced to parliament until the end of 2022.

However, we continue to work constructively with officials and appreciate that the writing of new regulations into law requires a rigorous process.

Natural Health Products NZ requires the new legislation to:

  • Enable appropriate, evidence-based health claims that provide higher assurance for consumers regarding product safety and efficacy
  • Remove export barriers by demonstrating New Zealand has world-class regulatory, compliance and audit systems
  • Enable the industry to expand faster, employ more people and contribute more to the economy, especially in the regions
  • Make it harder for questionable products to be marketed and sold here

Currently there is no consensus from MOH on the level of health benefits claims. Our primary objective is that health claims are aligned with modern, international best practice and we look forward to confirmation of this.

Whilst the timing is deeply frustrating, it’s great to have forward movement on the regulatory impasse at long last and we are hopeful of a positive outcome. Once we know the Bill’s details then we will consult with members and seek your submissions.

In the meantime, we will continue to work with the Ministry of Health to ensure the regulations are not only fit-for-purpose for our sector but frees exporters up from the regulatory shackles that have been holding them back so badly.

A key body of work that has taken a tremendous effort is obtaining an Export Only exemption for exporters. This certificate would provide an interim measure while the regulations are being enacted and exempt exporters from NZ Dietary Supplement Regulations. Exporters would of course still be bound by the regulations of the importing country.

We have established that there is no legal impediment to this exemption and we are working with the relevant Ministries to ensure it is introduced without delay.

At more than $2.3 billion per annum, our industry is a significant and growing contributor to New Zealand’s economy. We encourage the government to enable natural health products companies to fully participate in New Zealand’s economic recovery and growth.

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