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Medsafe Threatens 57 New Zealand Owned Businesses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday 18th April 2008

Medsafe Threatens 57 New Zealand Owned Businesses

Medsafe have contacted at least 57 business and website owners threatening them with lawsuits according to reports received by Health Freedom New Zealand. Medsafe have made demands to remove information from their sites that pertain to a recently broadened definition of therapeutic claims. According to Medsafe it is now illegal to have research, clinical trials and testimonials on your website if they imply a therapeutic benefit for natural products. You may not even place links on your website to other sites with research, clinical trials or scientific studies relating to the ingredients in your products. MedSafe's activities have been accurately described by Radio New Zealand National's host Katheryn Ryan, as "Barking mad".

Medsafe claim that they are only targetting websites making alarming claims like they can cure cancer or arthritis. However, Health Freedom spokesperson Nicola Grace says "This is simply not true. We know of several website owners where the complaints made by Medsafe were about the size or packaging, testimonials and even the name of the product itself. We know of one case where a website owner has complied with Medsafe only to find out now that the approved labels have become illegal overnight without any new law actually having been passed. It seems Medsafe are making up their own laws as they go along. Their enforcement policy appears inconsistent and their application of the law discriminatory. This is a witch hunt on small New Zealand owned natural health businesses because we refused to accept ANZTPA, which is even worse than what we have here."

Sue Kedgley, from the Greens recently asked the Health Minster "Can the Minister explain why the manufacturer of these herbal teas¡ªwhich have been used safely for centuries¡ªhas received letters from Medsafe saying it is a breach of the Medicines Act to use the words ¡°digestive ease tea for soothing and settling the stomach¡± on a label, when this wording has been previously approved by Medsafe; and has there been a change of Government policy so that it is now a crime to say that a particular tea can soothe the stomach?" to which Minister Cunliff replied "No and no". He further went on to repeat "that while Medsafe is a statutory regulatory agency, I would expect it to discharge its responsibilities in a way that is proportionate, appropriate, and well understood".

Health Freedom New Zealand is appealing to all small Natural Health Product businesses who have been threatened by Medsafe, for providing truthful information about their products, to contact them immediately. Nicola says "Small business owners may feel intimidated to stand up to bureaucratic bullying. We offer them strength in numbers and confidentiality. We need to find out just how unreasonable Medsafe has been in applying a law that the head of Medsafe admits is only being enforced to demonstrate to industry how bad it is".

We understand that at least 57 companies have been targeted, we need to hear from them.


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