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Kava death strengthens need for therapeutic agency

Media Release

16 August 2002

Kava death strengthens need for trans-Tasman therapeutic products agency

The death of an Australian woman that has been linked to kava consumption illustrates the need for the proposed new trans-Tasman rule book for dietary supplements, Medsafe Senior Advisor Dr Stewart Jessamine said today.

Dr Jessamine's comments follow a recall in Australia of all complementary medicines containing the herb kava.

"The public belief that dietary supplements are always natural, high quality and safe, bears little resemblance to the reality of the situation in New Zealand where there is a near absence of control over a number of critical areas."

"Current legislation does not require manufacturers and distributors of dietary supplements to inform any authority about the contents and safety of the products they are selling in New Zealand."

Proposed new legislation to be administered by a joint trans-Tasman regulatory body would change that.

Safety screening of ingredients would be introduced and manufacturers would be required to inform the Agency about the products they sell. This would enable the joint Agency to identify and act rapidly should any new safety concerns about a substance used in these products arise."

Without new legislation to oversee the safety of herbal substances, the public are leaving the protection of their health to the very people who are promoting and selling the product.


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