News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search


Lyprinol Sentence increased

19 February 2001

Lyprinol Sentence increased

THE Ministry of Health is delighted at a High Court decision which increases the sentence imposed on Lyprinol distributors Pacific Pharmaceuticals.

"This sends an important message about how seriously we take the law about medicines, and our vigilance in respect of products which do not meet the quality and safety criteria the Medicines Act demands," Director-General of Health Dr Karen Poutasi said.

In the Auckland High Court Justices J Priestley and J Anderson quashed the original $5000 fine imposed on Pacific Pharmaceuticals as "manifestly inadequate" and increased it to $15,000.

Dr Poutasi said the Ministry of Health was legally required to ensure New Zealanders had access to safe and effective medicines, registered under the Medicines Act.

"This means making sure that we protect the public against therapeutic claims for products which have not had the appropriate clinical trials and testing," Dr Poutasi said.

"We lodged an appeal against the original sentence because we believed the fine imposed on Pacific Pharmaceuticals in September was inadequate. Bearing in mind that this has always been something of a test case - acknowledged in this latest judgement - we asked for more."

Pacific Pharmaceuticals had admitted in an earlier court appearance that it breached section 20 of the Medicines Act 1981 which states that it is an offence to sell, distribute or advertise the availability of a new medicine before the Minister of Health has consented to such distribution.

It also admitted causing, or permitting to be published a medical advertisement that directly and/or by implication, claimed that the medicine of the description advertised, namely lyprinol, would prevent, alleviate, or cure cancer and/or arthritis. This breached section 58 of the Act. A small fine imposed for this breach ($150) is unchanged by today's decision.

Lyprinol's appearance on the New Zealand market in 1999 was marked by what the latest Court ruling called "extensive and in part inaccurate media attention....The end result was the deliberate sale of a product for which therapeutic claims had been made in the absence of the consents required."

Although the brief time the product was on the market meant profits were not great, the Court noted that "substantial profits" were built into the distribution chain for Lyprinol.


For further information contact: Angus Barclay Media advisor Tel: 04 496 2067

Internet Address;

Background Information

Pacific Pharmaceuticals was the New Zealand distributor of Lyprinol - a green-lipped mussel extract. Lyprinol was claimed to be effective in the treatment of arthritis and asthma and touted as a possible cure for cancer.

Lyprinol came to the attention of the Ministry of Health in July 1999 when there was significant coverage in television and newsprint of a story about the product being a possible cure for cancer.

The product was originally sold as a dietary supplement and, under these regulations, the distributor of the product is not permitted to make claims that the product may treat or cure any diseases or medical conditions.

To be able to market a product as a medicine, it must first be assessed as to its safety, quality and effectiveness by Medsafe, the medicines regulatory branch of the Ministry of Health, to be registered on the schedule of permitted medicines.

The media hype was generated at the same time as the product became available in pharmacies.

The Ministry's submission was that Pacific Pharmaceuticals Ltd was part of a cynical marketing campaign aimed to generate an instant profile for the product and to target it at a vulnerable audience - those suffering from cancer.


© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Reuben Moss' Property is Theft! & Kaitani at The Physics Room

Property is Theft! continues Moss’ interest in the contemporary urban environment as a space controlled by pulsing and unequal flows of capital and labour. Kaitani features work by the University of Canterbury Fijian Students Association and Kulimoe’anga Stone Maka. More>>

Handcrafted Form: Rare Treasures From Japan

This unique exhibition at Expressions Whirinaki represents 90 everyday objects made by contemporary Japanese artisans who employ various traditional craft techniques made in regional workshops. The works used in daily life are crafted from raw materials with techniques appropriate to bringing out the best of its medium, balancing ease of use with aesthetic appeal. More>>

Howard Davis Article: A Musical Axis - Brahms, Wagner, Sibelius

Brahms' warm and exquisitely subtle Symphony No. 3 in F major, Wagner's irrepressibly sentimental symphonic poem Siegfried Idyll, and Sibelius' chilling and immensely challenging Violin Concerto in D minor exemplify distinct stages of development in a tangled and convoluted series of skirmishes that came to define subsequent disputes about the nature of post-Romantic orchestral writing well into the following century. More>>

Scoop Review Of Books: A Pale Ghost Writer

Reviewed by Ruth Brassington, Richard Flanagan's new novel is about a novelist hastily ghost-writing the biography of a crook about to go to trial. The reader is kept on a cliff-edge, as the narrator tries to get blood out of his stone man. More>>

New Zealand Wars Commemoration: Witi Ihimaera's Sleeps Standing Moetū

The second of several articles to mark Rā Maumahara, remembering the New Zealand Land Wars. The first was a Q&A with Vincent O’Malley, author of The Great War for New Zealand: Waikato 1800–2000. More>>




  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland