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At Last Someone Is Listening, Says Health Group

9 December 2003

Gary Mabey
Joint Co-ordinator


At Last Someone Is Listening, Says Health Group

The Health Select Committee's report on a proposed trans-Tasman agency to regulate herbs, vitamins and minerals is an impressively researched and very balanced contribution, according to New Zealand's leading advocacy group for consumer choice in health care.

"In more than a decade of lobbying and making submissions, this report is by far the best-researched and most open-minded official document we have seen," said Gary Mabey, Joint Co-Ordinator of Citizens for Health Choices.

"Its key recommendation is a direct endorsement of the position of our group and most of the New Zealand industry: namely, that any system for regulating herbs, vitamins and minerals should be separate from medicines and food," Mr Mabey said.

Last week, Health Minister Annette King criticised the Select Committee for taking too long to release this report, saying that Australia was becoming impatient.

"But two things are now clear," Mr Mabey said. "First, the report took some time to produce because it has been deeply researched and carefully thought out. It is the best reference work on this topic.

"Second, if the public servants who have been advising the Government had taken the time to be equally diligent and open-minded, the Government wouldn't be in such a mess on this topic."

It is enormously significant that the Select Committee's report was unanimous, Mr Mabey said.

"Ms King should change her mind about signing the Treaty with Australia on Wednesday [editors: 10 December] to set up the proposed trans-Tasman agency to regulate herbs, vitamins and supplements.

"Signing the Treaty flies in the face of the unanimous view of the Select Committee, including Ms King's own Labour members.

"This is the time for the Government to reject Australian bullying and stand up for New Zealand's democratic traditions."

Media statement
For immediate release

ENDS


Who we are

Citizens for Health Choices is one of New Zealand’s leading and most visible advocates for consumer choice in health care.

Citizens for Health Choices was founded in 1992 by a group of consumers, health practitioners, and people from the dietary supplements industry. Since then it has been working to make sure New Zealanders have continued access to the natural health products they know and trust.

Today Citizens for Health Choices comprises more than 1000 consumer members, an Advisory Board of industry representatives, and support from New Zealand companies and individuals from across the dietary supplement sector – consumers, manufacturers, distributors, importers and practitioners.


Note: further background information on next page.


Background quotes:


"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."
Steve Chadwick, MP ( Labour)
Chair of Health Select Committee
9 December 2003

"It is not reasonable to expect the Governments of New Zealand or Australia to wait any longer for a report from a select committee—a report that the Government did not call for—on something that was first decided in September 2002, 15 months ago. Governments cannot hold up agreements on that basis. What countries would deal with us if we did?"

Hon Annette King
In Parliament, 4 December 2003


"So long as health products do not cause physical harm it would seem better to leave their efficacy to the judgment of consumers… The greater likelihood is that many products will disappear from the market not because they are "unsafe" in the ordinary meaning of the word but because their manufacturer will not invest in the additional expense of meeting the regulatory red tape of a relatively small market."

New Zealand Herald
Editorial, 9 December 2003

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