Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill Rethink Time

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The government has an ideal opportunity for a rethink of New Zealand’s health choices, with the placing of the Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill (TPMB) at the bottom of the Parliamentary Order Paper on Tuesday, according to the Soil & Health Association.

Community opposition to the Bill remains very high, and Soil & Health has received 1600 signatures through a modest appeal to members and friends over the last two weeks. Thousands have signed other petitions and hundreds attended last weekend’s Auckland rally against the TPMB.

Today, Soil & Health spokesperson Steffan Browning presented Green Party MP Sue Kedgley with the indicative signatures. “We all understand the issues are complex,” he said, “but there is an overriding concern from our members that they do not want any regulatory system controlled from Australia and they do not want to lose the choice of the natural products that they have at present.”

“One signatory, a 71 year old great grandmother who has successfully used herbal products, vitamins and minerals since 1980, finished a message with, ’We are mature enough & dare I say it wise enough to keep it right in New Zealand.’”

“One method of achieving this may be through a New Zealand Office of Natural Health Products, such as proposed by the Natural Health Alliance,” said Browning. “Their draft concept has a regulatory structure for consumer protection while keeping compliance costs low for producers.”

“With nanotechnology and genetic engineering being used in the production of some so-called therapeutic goods, it is important that we have strict guidelines, but also that they have the support of and input from New Zealand consumers and natural therapists, through a structure such as suggested by the Natural Health Alliance.”

“Consumer choice is increasingly being removed and unwanted additives are being included because New Zealand bureaucrats are chasing free trade agreements and international harmonisation of food and health standards (through Codex, CER and FSANZ, WTO and others). Soil & Health suggests that each agreement maintains full domestic opt-out clauses, and has better local consumer input,” said Browning.

Please Find Below the Draft Proposal by the Natural Health Alliance.

TO ESTABLISH AN Office of Natural Health Products New Zealand (onhpnz)

Mission Statement

Our mission is to make New Zealand’s health care sustainable into the future by becoming a world leader in the regulation of Natural Health Products resulting in New Zealand being the country recognised as having the Healthiest People on Earth.

Goal for New Zealand

To develop and maintain a sustainable health policy based on a wellness paradigm. To establish an appropriate regulatory environment for Natural Health and dietary supplement products.

To establish a Centre of Excellence for Natural Healthcare that will optimise the health of New Zealand consumers; address the escalating costs of health care in an ageing population; maximise a New Zealand wellness brand and secure New Zealand’s place in the global market – all resulting in a sustainable, innovative Health and Wellness industry lead economy.

New Zealand Health in the Future

The Natural Health Alliance believes that optimised health and disease prevention through the use of Natural health products and health promotion can substantially improve the quality of life. One of the greatest concerns of the OECD countries is the escalating cost for health care in an ageing population, especially for medication resulting from fundamental weaknesses in the present illness model of Health policy. This model is predicted to cripple many countries and individuals. To this end, the Office should be committed to meeting the challenges of tomorrow by supporting research into the health benefit properties of low risk and low cost Natural Products (especially New Zealand herbs and flora)

Export Led Wellness Economy

New Zealand exports of natural products and ingredients have the potential to exceed imports. New Zealand due to its isolation has unique herbs and ingredients – some of which are recognised as world leaders. Having a unique Natural health Products (NHP) regulator will give New Zealand the opportunity to foster entrepreneurial companies exporting unique leading natural health products.

The Natural Health Alliance recommends that:

1. A separate Office of Natural Health Products New Zealand (ONHPNZ) be established that:

a) Is separate and independent from the Pharmaceutical Regulatory office,

b) Develops an appropriate risk-based regulatory framework that ensures consumers have freedom to choose quality natural health products and good information about those products to assist in making informed choices, whilst protecting philosophical and cultural diversity,

c) Is headed by a person with experience and expertise in Natural Health Products as the Canadians have done in appointing a Doctor of Naturopathy as head of the Natural Health Directorate of Health Canada; and

d) Is also staffed with personnel qualified and experienced in natural health products.

2. Twenty percent of ONHPNZ national health and medical research funding be directed towards research projects into natural health products.

3. A Centre of Excellence of Natural Healthcare be established with industry, Maori and consumers in partnership to focus on research, education and economics with objectives similar to those of the US Office of Dietary Supplements.

4. A cost-benefit study be conducted into the potential cost savings from greater use of natural health products be undertaken.

5. An on-line consumer information service be established in consultation with industry to provide consumers with balanced, factual information on natural health products.

6. A rebate for all natural health products and services be negotiated with private health insurance providers.

7. A Natural Health Products Advisory Committee be established to provide expert advice on natural health products and alternative health practices to the Minister and regulatory bodies.

8. An adverse event reporting system for NHPs to monitor trends and emerging safety issues and that such reports be assessed by a Committee of persons with knowledge and expertise in natural healthcare.

9. That the cost of the regulator be at least 50% subsidized by the New Zealand government as New Zealand will gain through the significant cost savings coming from a wellness health care system. Cost recovery system to recover only those costs that relate to regulatory services to the Industry.

10. Penalties and fines for breaches of the NHP standards to be set at appropriate levels that would be normal for this level of breach in accordance with similar used in the Food Industry in New Zealand.

11. Research into the health benefits of our Native Natural flora and fauna be sponsored by the Government to establish the active ingredients and confirm the benefits that have been discovered anecdotally over many years of use .The published research will help develop a good research based industry in New Zealand and the evidence to support the development of the New Zealand Natural Health Brand Internationally.

12. The government to promote the use of NHPs as a means of improving the nation’s Health and reducing the escalating cost of healthcare in an aging population.