Medsafe Declare Silent War on Natural Health Practitioners & Manufacturers - In 2007 Medsafe began, what can only be called, a modern day witch hunt within the natural health industry. The bureaucracy began warning companies involved in the manufacture, distribution and advertising of natural products that any product they claim to have therapeutic use or benefit will result in significant consequences, including seizure of stock and prosecution.
In view of the fact that for the past 26 years neither Medsafe nor any other government agency has prosecuted any members of the natural health industry, Health Freedom NZ note that since the failure of the enactment of the Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Agency and the massive 51 percent increase in Ministry of Health Staff, that there has been entered into a concerted persecutory campaign directed at members and companies of the natural products industry.
Medsafe themselves told the Health Select Committee that current laws were not being enforced because doing so would force a substantial proportion of existing complementary healthcare products off the market. They also said that current Medicines Act rules were not appropriate for use for natural products. We can't help but see their decision to now ruthlessly enforce these very same matters as an act of retaliation against the industry for standing up to them on ANZTPA.
Portion of transcript of Radio Interview on Radio New Zealand March 5th 2008 with Medsafe representative Dr Stuart Jessamine, Celestial Essentials website owner and radio announcer Kathryn Ryan.
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Dr. Jessamine: We had to hire an enforcement team because we never ever had one…….This is part of a campaign to educate people that the legislation isn’t perfect and that we agree there is need for new legislation in this area.
NHP provider: There is to be no promotional material, any written or spoken word, nothing on product labels, product leaflets, instructions, any in store sales material, nothing on websites, nothing in newsletters, nothing in any direct promotion. That basically for me shuts down any method I have of speaking to anybody about any properties to do with my products.
Announcer: Well you can publish a book, apparently.
Dr Jessamine: No you can also publish the information about Lavender oil on your website.
NHP provider: You’ve just told me I’m not allowed to
Dr Jessamine: No, no no no, …what the compliance with the legislation is about , your brand of lavender oil, so that your brand can’t have on the label that it treats burns cause that’s a therapeutic claim under the Medicines Act.
Announcer: (incredulous) so, so, sorry, (long pause) she can have on her website a comment that lavender oil aids burns, (another long pause) but she can’t say it’s her lavender oil?
Dr Jessamine: That’s correct
Announcer: That just sounds completely barking mad.
Dr Jessamine: Welcome to the wonderful world of..
Dr Jessamine: Legislation
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Health Freedom view this is as retaliation for opposing the "Anti-Vitamin" Bill (Therapeutic Goods & Medicines Bill - a kinda of tit-for-tat approach by government. It's a wild time when government retaliates and punishes it's people for having a different view from their own!
Website owners were contacted with vague letters from MedSafe giving them little notice to comply.
- They were told to remove sentences on their website and advertising material that pertain to the therapeutic benefits of certain natural substances, natural products and supplements.
- They were told not to link to websites that have research proving their claims or to of have research proving their claims on their website if the website also has natural products on it.
- Medafe have begun raiding small health food stores and confiscating products. We know of four stores at writing of this page.
These activities have lead to several businesses loosing a substantial income and may even result in the loss of their business if MedSafe are allowed to continue.
Sue Kedgley from the Greens Questions Health MInister on Witch Hunt
Health Freedom launched a nationwide letter writing campaign, phone in and visitation to Medsafe, MP's and the Health Minister imploring the Bureaucracy to stop its retaliatory witch hunt. Sue Kedgley, MP for the Greens picks up the questions in the House to the then Health Minister, David Cunliffe.
Health Freedom's Submision to the Health Select Committee
Health Freedom suggests that pharmaceutical trained regulators are not qualified to regulate natural products and should stick to their knitting. There's no point giving them additional duties outside their area of expertise when they are doing such a poor job in their core activities ie: regulating pharmaceuticals.
This activity by Medsafe supports Health Freedom's arguement that a pharmaceutical biased regulator should not be regulating, what amounts to the industry's major competitor, the natural health industry. A divorce is most certainly necessary on the grounds of irreconciliable differences. We support instead a stand alone natural products agency and a natural products ministry to ensure once and for all that the regulator. This is what is needed to ensure a thriving health economy and equal access to health options for consumers.
The Health Freedom NZ Trust initiated a petition to halt Medsafe's witch hunt and instant sensible local legislation for Natural Products. We presented our submission to the Committee in August 2008. You can view the submission here.
Who Are Medsafe?
Medsafe is the New Zealand Medicines and Medical Devices Safety Authority. It is a business unit of the Ministry of Health and is the authority responsible for the regulation of therapeutic products in New Zealand.
Medsafe is responsible for administering the Medicines Act 1981 and Regulations 1984, and parts of the Misuse of Drugs Act 1975 and Regulations 1977.
Medsafe's Mission is stated to be to: Enhance the health of New Zealanders by regulating medicines and medical devices to maximise safety and benefit.
Medsafe has around 60 staff operating out of two offices, with administrative functions, product approval and standard setting based at the head office in Wellington. Medsafe has recently employed extra staff as their enforcement arm to police the Medicines Act 1981 and the Dietary Supplements Regulations1985.
Medsafe claim they are concerned with the level of non-compliance with the Dietary Supplements Regulations and the Medicines Act and the potential risks for consumers that arise as a consequence. Their main concern is the area of non-compliance in relation to therapeutic claims being made for products that are being supplied as dietary supplements.
Therapeutic claims are permitted for synthetic toxic poisonous and potentially dangerous pharmaceutical drugs but are not permitted for safe effective natural products (dietary supplements, herbs, functional foods, essential oils, cosmetic creams, homeopathy, Rongoa Maori, Chinese Medicine, Ayuvedic Medicine).