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Nominations Sought For Advisory Committee On Drugs

18 December 2000

Nominations Sought For Expert Advisory Committee On Drugs

THE Ministry of Health is calling for nominations for a new Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs.

The committee is being established following an amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975, which specifically requires classification of illicit drugs to be based on the risk of harm to individuals or society. The amendment provides for more expeditious drug classifications as the Governor-General, on the recommendation of the Minister of Health, is now able to make Orders in Council scheduling controlled substances.

Ministry of Health spokesperson Matthew Allen, said the amendment has strengthened the Act, allowing for the speedy and harm-based classification of drugs, and is also in line with to the objectives of the National Drug Policy.

"The National Drug Policy is based on a harm minimisation framework featuring: supply-reduction, demand-reduction and harm-reduction. This amendment and formation of this new committee adds strength to those objectives and sets clear policy guidance on how drugs should be classified, with the key focus of reducing the harm to individuals and society."

The Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs will comprise up to 10 people, will advise the Minister of Health on a variety of drug classification issues.

"It will carry out medical and scientific reviews of controlled drugs and other narcotic or psychotropic substances, as well as making recommendations to the Minister about whether, and how, such substances should be classified, and the level at which the presumption for supply should be set for any substances."

The committee will include a variety of professional experts including up to five experts in pharmacology, toxicology, drug and alcohol treatment, psychology, and community medicine. A consumer representative of drug treatment services will also be appointed, along with government officials with expertise in public health, the appropriateness and safety of pharmaceuticals and their availability to the public and representatives from the New Zealand Custom Service and the Police.

Nominations close on 19 January 2000.

People interested in applying should contact the Ministry's National Drug Policy Team. They should include a 3 page curriculum vitae and a 1 page covering letter outlining why they should be appointed to the committee, disclosing potential conflicts of interest and (if any) proposals for conflict management. Current and previous government appointments and private sector board appointments held should also be disclosed.

END

For more information contact: Selina Gentry, Media Advisor, ph: 04-496-2483 or 025-277-5411 Internet address: http://www.moh.govt.nz/media.html

Background to the Amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act.

The Misuse of Drugs Act now requires classification of illicit drugs to be based on the risk of harm to individuals or society;

· Drugs posing a very high risk of harm should be scheduled as 'Class A.' · Drugs posing a high risk of harm should be scheduled as 'Class B.' · Drugs posing a moderate risk of harm should be scheduled as 'Class C.

The National Drug Policy

In 1998 the New Zealand Government released the National Drug Policy. The Policy is based on a three-pillared harm minimisation framework featuring: supply-reduction, demand-reduction and harm-reduction, supported by community development. The following national priorities for action with respect to illicit drugs have been selected for the first five years of the National Drug Policy:

To enable New Zealanders to increase control over and improve their health by limiting the harms and hazards of drug use.

To reduce the prevalence of cannabis use and use of other illicit drugs.

To reduce the health risks, crime and social disruption associated with the use of illicit drugs and other drugs which are used inappropriately.

Selina Gentry Media Liaison Communications DDI: 496 2483 Fax: 496 2010 mailto:selina_gentry@moh.govt.nz Ministry of Health


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