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Dunne announces Temporary Class Drug Notice

Hon Peter Dunne

Associate Minister of Health
Thursday, 8 March 2012 Media Release

Dunne announces Temporary Class Drug Notice

A common ingredient in ‘party pills’ and some weight loss and sports performance supplements is being banned and expected to be off the market in early April, Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne announced today.

A Temporary Class Drug Notice has been placed on the substance commonly known as DMAA ((1,3-dimethylamylamine), bringing to 21 the total number of substances banned under the notices brought in under amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act in August last year, Mr Dunne said.

DMAA has been linked to a range of health concerns, including increased blood pressure, headaches and vomiting. However, severe cases of cerebral haemorrhage or stroke have also been reported.

“DMAA is the first substance other than a synthetic cannabinoid to be banned using the temporary notices, and I think this decision demonstrates the wider use of Temporary Class Drug Notices to protect the health and well being of New Zealanders,” he said.

“It is not just about party pills and synthetic cannabis,”

The notices are issued on substances rather than commercial products, meaning that all products that contain those substances effectively become banned.

“Again this is part of the merit of the legislative changes we made last year. We are not chasing around after individual products in a never-ending game of catch-up. It is proving to be very effective legislation and has virtually completely nailed the synthetic cannabis industry,” Mr Dunne said.

Mr Dunne said today’s announcement means any product containing this chemical must be removed from shelves and can no longer be sold over the internet in New Zealand from 9 April.

Because this ban affects a wider range of products and sellers than those that have typically just impacted on the synthetic cannabis or party pill industries, there is a 30-day period before the ban takes effect.

“We need to make sure that people have a reasonable time to be adequately informed of the ban,” he said.

Temporary Class Drug Notices are a holding measure until permanent legislation can be developed this year to reverse the onus of proof so all such products must meet appropriate levels of safety before they can be approved and sold.

In another matter, Tapentadol, a new opioid medication for the treatment of acute and chronic pain, has had controls added to its use following its classification as a controlled drug.

It is becoming a Class B3 controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act, placing robust controls on the importation, supply, and possession of Tapentadol in order to minimise its illegal diversion and non-medical use.

“Opioids play an important role in the treatment of pain but their non-medical use can result in serious health harms,” Mr Dunne said.

The classification under the Misuse of Drugs Act reflects the need to balance the potential risk of harm from misuse with the need to ensure that people who would benefit from the legitimate use of Tapentadol are able to get it on prescription from a registered medical practitioner.

This change follows the advice provided by the Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs, he said.


Questions & Answers on Temporary Class Drug Notice for DMAA


Q. What is DMAA?

A. DMAA (1,3-dimethylamylamine, or 4-methylhexane-2-amine) is a synthetic compound with stimulant properties. It is an active ingredient in a number of unregulated ‘party pill’ products and is also found in a growing range of products claiming to assist in weight loss and sports performance enhancement.

Q Where is DMAA being sold?

A. Products containing DMAA are sold from a variety of retail sources, including ‘party pill’ suppliers, sports nutrition stockists, gyms and on the Internet.

Q. Why is DMAA being banned?

A. The Ministry of Health has been monitoring user and medical reports of effects linked to the use of DMAA. Side effects including headaches, elevated blood pressure, nausea and vomiting have been reported. The Ministry is also aware of hospital presentations including these symptoms and some cases of cerebral haemorrhage (stroke). Based on these reports, the Associate Minister of Health has agreed with Ministry advice that DMAA poses a risk of harm to individuals or to society and therefore should be made a temporary class drug.

Q. When will the ban on DMAA take effect?

A. Associate Minister of Health Peter Dunne has agreed to a 30-day period for the Temporary Class Drug Notice to come into effect, to allow for suppliers and users of DMAA to comply with the drug’s new status. DMAA will become a temporary class drug on 9 April 2012. The notice will expire 12 months from that date.

Q. What is a Temporary Class Drug Notice?

A. It is mechanism provided for in the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 (the Act) to place a temporary ban on unregulated substances of concern.

Q. How does a drug become temporarily classified?

A. The Minister issues a Temporary Class Drug Notice notifying the drug’s temporary classification status. The notice is published in the New Zealand Gazette and posted on the Ministry of Health’s website as soon as possible following publication.

A temporary classification comes into force at a minimum of 7 days after the date of the publication of the notice in the Gazette. The notice expires one year after the notice comes into force, or when the drug is otherwise classified. However, the Minister may extend the period of the notice in order to obtain sufficient advice for an appropriate decision on longer term regulation.

Q. Are any other drugs currently covered by temporary bans?

A. Three Temporary Class Drug Notices are already in place, covering a total of 20 drugs. Until now, all drugs placed under temporary ban have been synthetic cannabinoid substances.

Q. What offences are associated with a temporarily classified drug?

A. A temporary class drug is treated, in most respects, as if the drug were a Class C1 controlled drug in the Act. From the date a Temporary Class Drug Notice comes into force the import, export, manufacture, supply and sale of the drug/s covered by the notice becomes illegal, with penalties the same as for Class C drugs. However, the possession or use of the drug/s is not a criminal offence.

Q. How is a temporary ban enforced?

A. The Police and Customs Service carry out enforcement, in line with their current responsibilities to address the supply of controlled drugs in the Act.

Q. Why will the supply of DMAA be prohibited, but its possession still be legal?

A. A Temporary Class Drug Notice provides for the immediate control of drugs under the Misuse of Drugs Act, with the same penalties as for Class C drugs, except that personal possession or use is not an offence. The intention of a notice is to immediately restrict the supply of a drug with unknown consequences. However, temporary classification is on the basis of belief by the Minister of Health that there is a risk or possibility of harm to individuals or to society, but where the level of harm has yet to be determined. While the temporary ban is in place, the Government does not believe anyone using the drug should be criminalised.

Q. How much will it cost to enforce a ban on DMAA?

A. The Police and Customs Service will enforce the legislation from existing baseline funding. The overall cost to the criminal justice sector will also be met by existing arrangements.

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