Media Release Friday April 20, 2007
Concerned members of the public and health industry will rally again in Auckland tomorrow April 21, before Nationwide Protest Action begins Saturday April 28 in Auckland, Wellington Christchurch and Whangarei to oppose the Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill, which many are calling The “Anti-Vitamin” Bill.
Guest speakers at the Awareness Rally in Auckland tomorrow include sportswoman Allison Roe and Naturopath Lani Lopez, with more special guest announcements planned for the April 28 protests.
Rally organiser Nicola Grace is pleased that public awareness is increasing and expects numbers to swell in their thousands for the nationwide protest marches. “Having had first hand experience living under the TGA in Australia, the sheer volume of safe products that have effectively been outlawed while many unsafe drugs remain on the market is something that cannot be allowed to happen here in New Zealand. A trans-Tasman agency is just bad for business, bad for New Zealanders Health, bad for our economy and bad for our wallets. We intend to stop this madness.”
The Bill, which seeks regulate and control all therapeutic products by way of a joint agency between Australia and NZ (ANZTPA), narrowly passed its first reading by one vote in December, despite members of the Health Select Committee twice rejecting the proposed Australian model.
Under the new legislation therapeutic products, which include vitamins, herbs and dietary supplements, will be regulated in much the same way that pharmaceutical medicines are despite their low-risk nature. The regulation will be carried out by the Australian-dominated trans-Tasman agency and eliminate NZ’s regulatory body MedSafe.
Industry members say that Australia’s draconian regime, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), has had a crippling effect on their industry with job losses and increasing compliance costs resulting in many businesses shutting down or moving offshore. One such member affected by the TGA says, “The New Zealand system is not broke… it does not need a sledgehammer to fix it”.
The movement against the “Anti-Vitamin” Bill has cross party support, with National’s Associate Spokeswoman for Health, Dr Jackie Blue saying, “What’s being proposed is costly and bureaucratic. Even the government’s own documents suggest two-thirds of New Zealand’s health products will be wiped from shop shelves. National says back New Zealanders’ choice by opposing the TGA.”
Green MP Sue Kedgley agrees, saying “If this legislation is passed, hundreds of natural health products will disappear from our shelves, and become illegal, even if they have been safely used for centuries and have been approved by overseas regulatory bodies such as the US [FDA].”
The Ministry of Health’s most recent estimates suggest less than 50% of therapeutic products available today will be available in 5 years time once the transitional period is over. Former head of the TGA’s Surveillance Unit, Val Johanson, predicts that 50% of natural health companies in NZ may close and innovation will be stifled. She also says that New Zealand stands to lose its unique place in the global market as a leader in high quality ‘clean and green’ innovative natural products.
A 1997 Ministry of Health Survey revealed that 60% of New Zealanders use dietary supplements with nearly 50% consuming them on a daily basis. This figure is now reliably estimated to be around 70% due to an increase in market volume in the past 5 years. This legislation has the power to seriously affect every New Zealander and their future health choices.
For media information / interviews:
Sian Bennett firstname.lastname@example.org
021 742 614
For rally / protest information:
Auckland – Nicola Grace
09 377 2850 / 027 625 1864
Wellington – Bronya email@example.com
Christchurch – Eve 03 693 0034 firstname.lastname@example.org