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TrnsTasman agency to regulate therapeutic products

9 December 2003

Media release – Health Committee

Trans-Tasman agency to regulate therapeutic products

A proposal to regulate complementary healthcare products jointly with Australia should not proceed, a Health Committee report has found. The Government has agreed in principle to a trans-Tasman agency to regulate medicines, medical devices and complementary healthcare products. However, the committee has recommended the Government strengthen domestic regulation rather than pursue a joint regulatory option.

The committee today presented to the House its report on the inquiry into the proposal to establish a trans-Tasman agency to regulate therapeutic products. The committee initiated the inquiry in September 2002, partly in response to the petition of Sue Kedgley and 30,457 others that requested that regulations governing dietary supplements not be brought under a single trans-Tasman authority, and partly because of concerns raised over therapeutic product policy development in New Zealand. The committee makes 34 recommendations in its report.

The committee heard evidence from individuals and organisations from both New Zealand and Australia. While some submitters favoured some form of joint regulation, most opposed the current joint agency proposal. However, most favoured a strengthened regulatory regime in New Zealand.

‘We have thought carefully about how complementary healthcare products should be regulated,’ committee chairperson Steve Chadwick said. ‘We do not believe any joint agency should cover these products at this time, as we consider this may be too high a regulatory burden given the level of risk posed by these products.’ The committee favoured a mutual recognition arrangement to cover such products.

The committee’s recommendations outline the factors it believes should be considered in any system for regulating complementary healthcare products. The committee considered carefully the implications of the joint agency proposal for traditional Mâori medicine, and recommended that if a joint trans-Tasman agency did proceed, the legislation implementing the proposal in both countries should reflect Treaty of Waitangi obligations. It is also important to protect New Zealand’s intellectual property rights in traditional Mâori medicine.

Ends.

Copies of the committee’s report can be purchased from Bennetts Government Bookshops, or viewed at http://www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/cgi-bin/select-reports

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