Future Of Shape Patch Under Consideration
The Ministry of Health is currently considering whether to take further action against the distributors of Shape Patch which allegedly breached the Medicines Act, says Senior Advisor Stewart Jessamine.
The Ministry believes the most appropriate action to protect public health is to ensure that the distributor immediately ceases advertising and removes any websites featuring advertising material that is considered to breach the Medicines Act 1981.
Dr Jessamine says the aim of the Medicines Act is to protect the public by ensuring that as much as possible any product that makes a therapeutic claim is able to demonstrate it does what is says it does and is safe when used as directed.
Any products that claim to lead to weight loss, except for dieting and exercise, are considered to be a medicine under the Medicines Act. The distributor of Shape Patch has not applied to the Minister to market this medicine and it is illegal to advertise medicines for sale in New Zealand without the consent of the Minister of Health.
In addition to alleged breaches of the Medicines Act, Dr Jessamine said "the Shape Patch advertising that appeared in four metropolitan papers over the past 24 hours is in breach of the Advertising Standards Authority codes of practice and the industry self-regulatory regimen for advertising therapeutic products".
"Since November 2000 all products that may make therapeutic claims must be assessed and approved by an independent evaluator at the Therapeutic Advertising Pre-vetting System (TAPS) and issued with a compliance code number before publication. As the Shape patch advert did not have a TAPS compliance number, newspapers should not have published the advert. Rather they should have sent it back to the advertising agency asking that it put the advert through the TAPS system".
"We will also be looking at the product's packaging and advising the distributor what they can and cannot advertise".
Shape Patch advertising claimed it was an "all natural method to lose weight and keep it off".
Dr Jessamine hoped publicity around this incident would deter weight loss companies from making misleading, false or unproven claims and building up the hopes of anyone wanting to lose weight.
"The Ministry has no information about either the safety or effectiveness of Shape or any other patch weight loss product. We would caution consumers to think carefully before spending their money on products which distributors claim can make life altering changes to body shape but do not include a dieting or exercise regime".
"The Ministry is considering what further action it should take. Traditionally we do not prosecute first time offenders where there is no threat to public safety. However we will be directing the distributor to cease advertising and pull down any websites that feature advertising material.