Lyprinol - what next?
3 August 1999
FUTURE availability of Lyprinol will not be known until its status is clarified.
"That will involve us talking with the manufacturers, the distributors and others, and will take some time," Ministry spokesman Stewart Jessamine said today.
"But let's pull back for a moment from the present furore and think about those people likely to buy this product," Dr Jessamine said.
"I think it's fair to say that someone diagnosed with cancer is in a vulnerable position. Of course some people are going to want to try anything which could possibly offer some hope, and that's their right. But it is not anyone's right to suggest they have a cure when the product in question has not been assessed through proper scientific trials."
Dr Jessamine said some media are still erroneously reporting that the Ministry has banned sales of the product.
"What has happened is that distributor Pacific Pharmaceuticals yesterday indicated that they would not be supplying any more until the status of the product was clarified, and promotional material brought into line with that status," Dr Jessamine said.
"The Medicines Act 1981 is quite specific that any product which claims to improve or cure meets the definition of medicine. It is therefore required to be registered for sale as such. The conditions for registration require us to assess a number of factors, including evidence from clinical trials which typically involve at least 1000 people. We know those trials have not been conducted for Lyprinol as an anti-cancer agent. In fact they are only just starting. Hence our concern that this product was being publicised in some quarters as a cure when it's only just started the process.
"When we raised this concern with the distributors they immediately suggested they stop supply and that's where things stand," Dr Jessamine said.
Ministry staff now wanted to contact those responsible for the promotional material, which clearly breaches the Medicines Act. Their comment, together with other information, would be considered in deciding whether to prosecute.
Dr Jessamine said that decision was several weeks away.