Health Freedom has just spent two days with a stand at the Natural
Therapies Expo in Auckland held by an Australian promotions group.
There were several large Australian manufacturers and exhibitors
there. We had some very positive outcomes and encouraging encounters.
We learnt many things:
1/ Apparently the New Zealand Natural Products Industry is regarded
as being unruly, unprofessional, or lower quality and standard and
needs the TGA. That the TGA is a good thing.
2/ Our practitioners are considered to be a bunch of unqualified,
unprofessional bunch of hippies in need of lifting their game and the
TGA would do that.
3/ Many Australians in TGA regulated states (all but South Australia
and Queensland) didn’t understand why we kiwis made such a fuss about
4/ Many Australian consumers in TGA regulated states have no clue
what the TGA have been up to.
5/ The Queenslanders said outright – good on ya, you don’t want a bar
of the TGA. Queensland is currently not regulated by the TGA. They
would be if ANZTPA comes into power.
6/ Australian industry, by and large, mistakenly believe they will be
protected from Codex by the TGA.
Many practicioners and consumers are getting their therapeutic
natural products from Queensland or New Zealand if they can get them
across the border. And they are getting increasingly frustrated and
tired of jumping the ever increasing speed at which the TGA are
passing the rope under their feet. Some chose to retire out of the
business and give up.
On further discussions, questions asked, dialogue and probing
questions we then discovered:
There are now 3 categories that natural products fall in to: Listed
Medicines, Food Supplements, Dietary Supplements each with their own
arbitrary set of rules that are constantly changing – presently
around about twice a month. To get your product or ingredient put on
any of these lists you need to pay money. If the product or
ingredient is then taken off the list or moved from one category to
another, you do not get your money back, you have to spend some more
money to get your product listed correctly and in some instances you
need to re-manufacture the product.
Mandatory warnings are required on products like Selenium and Iron
(if they are natural products). In the case of Selenium, because of
the dosage, the warning is to say not for use in kids under 15.
In the case of Iron if the supplement is listed as a Complimentary
Medicine it must have a warning label on it saying “not for the use
of iron deficiency”. However the pharmacuetical drug Ferrogradumet (a
synthetic iron supplement) does not require the same warning. This
rule came about because ONE man, severly iron deficient, bought
Ferrogradumet and after taking it did not get better. He actually
required a blood transfusion he was so deficient.
The natural product Kava was outperforming benzodiazapine for the
treatment of anxiety. In 2002/3 11 cases of adverse reactions to Kava
were reported When the cases were pulled appart it was discovered
that in one case a young woman had taken 300 tablets in an attempt to
kill herself and instead became somnambulant (sleepy).
One lady had liver failure while taking Kava herbal tea. She was also
on 9 medical drugs all with known liver complications, however Kava
about 5 cases were of people who took Kava manufactured by a
pharmaceutical company who used a novel solvent called methanol to
extract the Kava. This novel extraction process resulted in liver
Western Australia banned Kava and in the other TGA states you can no
longer get Kava in a therapeutic form only in a water extract form.
In the case of Stevia, Milk Thistle, St Johns Wort and Quercetin
(bioflavanoid found in fruit and vege)
Substances that are allowable one day can suddenly become illegal. We
were give 4 examples: Stevia, Milk Thistle, St Johns Wort and
Quercetin (bioflavanoid found in fruit and vege). Valid reasons are
not given, industry suspects that sometimes they do this as a form of
harassment, and sometimes to protect a competitor in the
pharmaceutical world – for example stevia competes with aspartame as
a suger alternative.
The result of all this is complex: Firstly it causes consumer
confusion as they don’t really understand the workings of the TGA. It
costs companies making the products a lot of money having to jump
rope everytime the TGA sees fit to pull it. For those companies
staying in business it is forcing them to use “synthetic”
or “biologically changed” substances to make their “natural products”
compliant with new TGA rules.
We spoke with several manufacturers who agreed that they were slowly
losing their natural products as substances are broken down to
acceptable components making them more like synthetic drugs than
whole natural products. Companies with new innovations simply don’t
bother to list new ingredients or products they simply reformulate
what they have because of the cost and the risk the TGA may change
So it seems Health Freedom have not been scaremongering. We have
indeed been right all along when we say the TGA is draconian. They
apply the rules when and where they want to without any
accountability. And may I remind you that ANZTPA would allow for the
Managing Director to make up the daily regulatory rules after the
scheme comes into effect and any time s/he sees fit and without the
need to report to the board of the agency or the Ministerial Council.
There is an industry rumour (which has always proven to be
substantiated in time), that the TGA are now changing the terminology
of the rules so that only Doctors can prescribe Listed Medicines
under the Complimentary Medicines Section. (natural medicines, herbs,
therapeutic grade supplements etc.). Some Naturopaths only will be
recognised if they have a degree in Health Science from an approved
University. Now the approved university is according to the TGA not
the Australian Government. Many naturopaths with degrees from
Government approved universities would not be approved to prescribe
complimentary medicines in the first category. Naturopaths without
degrees would be put out of business.
And our government seems to think we need this agency in the interest
of public safety. Our government seems to think by joining this
regulator our Health System will become “World Class” – Yeah Right!
We are about to launch our next campaign so please keep this
information handy for the next lot of letters we’ll be sending off.
We will be joining forces with Health Freedom groups across the
tasman in a massive trans-Tasman co-operative move.
It’s becoming more and more clear that this is a campaign we CAN WIN.