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Report on BZP and 'Party Pills'

Media Statement

Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton has received a report from the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD) on benzylpiperazine (BZP) and related substances, also known as 'party pills'.

"The Committee has recommended that there needs to be more regulation and control over these 'party pills' but it does not recommend their classification as controlled drugs at this time," the Progressive Leader said.

"More control and regulation could be achieved by adding a new category of classification to the Misuse of Drugs Act which would result in some restriction on sales such as an 18 plus age limit, and I agree this appears to be a sensible approach until more information is known," Jim Anderton said.

"The Misuse of Drugs Amendment Bill, which I indicated before Christmas was being drafted to better empower Police and Customs in their fight against drugs, could have a new category added to it once the Ministry of Health has looked at the options," Jim Anderton said.

"The EACD has recommended further research into the potential harms associated with the use of BZP and similar substances because evidence suggests that BZP can create adverse reactions when taken in conjunction with some prescription medicines, and/or possibly with alcohol," he said.

"The EACD noted further that while BZP has genuine therapeutic uses as a treatment for internal parasites in cattle, there is no known nutritional or therapeutic use for humans, and questioned the appropriateness for BZP to continue to be marketed as a dietary supplement," the Progressive leader said.

In the wake of the EACD report, the Associate Minister of Health will therefore:

- Request that the Minister of Food Safety consider the appropriateness of permitting the chemical BZP to continue to be sold as a dietary supplement when it has no known nutritional value;

- Instruct the Ministry of Health to conduct further research into the potential harms associated with the use of BZP;

- Instruct the Ministry of Health to investigate the possibility of gathering data on the extent of BZP use through the introduction of routine toxicology screening in community laboratories.

- Direct the Ministry of Health to examine options for new categories of classification that could include increased levels of control and regulation of legal chemicals such as BZP, for example, an 18 plus age limit.

Jim Anderton met with the chair of the EACD, Dr Bob Boyd, this morning and has asked that the EACD's report on party pills be posted on the National Drug Policy website www.ndp.govt.nz

Jim Anderton also appealed for anyone in the community who has information or experience that they believe is relevant to the EACD's information-gathering work to write to them at: The EACD Secretariat National Drug Policy Team, C/0 Ministry of Health P.O.Box 5013 WELLINGTON.


ENDS

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