The Natural Health Alliance (NHA) was formed in 2003 in response to the Treaty document signed between the New Zealand and Australian governments to establish a single joint trans-Tasman Therapeutic Products Agency (ANZTPA).
The New Zealand Ministry of Health argued that harmonisation of dietary supplements with Australia was needed to manage risk, improve quality and safety standards, to facilitate trade, and to enhance closer economic relations with Australia. Our members believed this primary objective statement to be misguided and without substance.
The Australian regulatory system is viewed by most importers as a trade barrier to the Australian market and protectionist for Australian manufacturers. Australia is viewed internationally as having the most draconian regulatory regime for dietary supplements in the world.
The inevitable consequence of “harmonising” with Australia’s restrictive system would have been to significantly increase the costs of dietary supplements and decrease the range that would be available to consumers in New Zealand.
Although Ministry of Health representatives continually state that it is not their intention to adopt the Australian system the Bill is clearly modeled on a combination of the Australian and Canadian systems, both of which are seen to apply trade barrier, protectionist and pharmaceutical mind-sets.
Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill
The “Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill” legislation placed before the New Zealand parliament in 2006 would have given the Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Agency” (ANZTPA) sole authority over regulating therapeutic goods in both countries.
The proposed regulations were very heavy-handed and over two hundred small New Zealand manufacturers including small exporters, importers and thousands of re-sellers and distributors would be forced out of business if the Bill was enacted.
In 2007, natural health professionals and the public marched in the streets to oppose the Bill and it was subsequently overturned.
The Joint Industry Proposal
The Natural Health Alliance in co-operation with other industry stakeholders and consumer groups developed a Joint Industry Proposal (JIP) for the regulation of natural health products which was presented to the Ministry of Health in 2009. This Joint Industry Proposal was unanimously endorsed by all industry stakeholders and consumer groups.
The Health Minister at the time welcomed the proposal but it has morphed over the following 7 years, back into an Australian TGA / Health Canada style system.
Natural Health Products Bill
Despite calls for a light-handed regulatory system for low-risk products, in 2015, the regulators renewed their efforts to impose heavy-handed regulations of natural health products on the sector, under the guise of protecting consumer safety.
The sector agrees that regulation is necessary but most are opposed to the heavy-handed pharmaceutically based ‘permitted list’ of ingredients approach, which is just one example of the many changes that were made to transform the Joint Industry Proposal (JIP) into the Natural Health Products Bill that is before parliament today. It is due to have its third and final hearing before parliament any day now.
The Natural Health Alliance is growing as sector professionals and consumers are waking up to the reality of the vested interests behind this Bill. It is clear that consumers and innovative local natural health product businesses will be severely disadvantaged by the collateral damage that ‘permitted list’ style regulation inevitably brings with it.