Effects And Implications For Consumers Of The Natural Health & Supplementary Products Bill
A brief summary and extended discussion of the consequences of the pending Natural Health & Supplementary Products Bill (formerly the Natural Health Products Bill) currently in Parliament.
This is a very complex Bill with many unacceptable aspects. Due to the need for brevity and clarity we have restricted our comments mainly to aspects that will affect consumers.
The third reading of the Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill is imminent. This Bill will ban most Natural Health Product (NHP) ingredients without just cause.
NHPs in NZ are presently regulated under a ‘Black-list’ (a short list of banned substances that have shown evidence of harm). We currently have the right to consume any Natural Health ingredients not on the ‘Black-list’, which gives us access to an unquantifiably high number of ingredients with no history of harm.
Under the new Bill this present ‘Black-list’ approach will be replaced by a new ‘White-list’ approach, with a very limited ‘White-list’ of ‘permitted ingredients’. Any ingredient that is not on this permitted ‘White-list will not be allowed to be sold in NZ
Many Natural Health Products will disappear if they contain even one ingredient that is not on their ‘Permitted White-list’. Many suppliers will also disappear as a result.
Any NHP ingredient that is recognised as having therapeutic (health improving) effect can be re-classified as a medicine by the MoH. Once it is classed as a medicine, it will be black-listed for use in Natural Health products. (This is already happening)
There is no accountability for harm or death as a result of consumers losing healthcare products that they depend on. There are no provisions in the Bill to make allowances for this if it does happen.
The passing of the Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill will result in many Natural Health Products becoming either severely restricted (via new proposed low dosage limits), or being made outright illegal in NZ.
All of the following contain one or more ingredients that do not appear on the list provided by the Ministry of Health, meaning consumers will no longer be able to purchase these products.
These are just a few examples that have been sent to us by consumers:
Liposomal Vit C,
Hardy Nutritionals Daily Essential Nutrients,
5-HTP – all products,
L-Methionine – all products,
MediHerb TyAdren Support,
Pure Encapsulations Ascorbyl Palmitate,
Go Healthy Go Prostate Protect,
Douglas Laboratories De-Mer-Tox,
Future Formulations Inner Healing.
We invite readers to contribute to this list by emailing us at Info@HealthFreedom.co.nz
Natural Health Practitioners will be unable to properly practice as they will no longer be able to prescribe to their patients’ needs.
The Ministry has stated in the consultation document that products made by a practitioner for an individual patient will be exempt from the Bill – including Rongoā Māori and Traditional Chinese Medicine – but that these same products will not be allowed to be sold over the counter.
However New Zealand Health Trust’s interpretation of the Supplementary Order Paper (the most up-to-date version of the Bill) differs from this entirely in that Māori health practitioners and others using traditional herbal and other remedies to administer to an individual will be unable to use non-permitted ingredients.
We feel this is a classic example of how unreliable and misleading the Ministry’s information is in relation to this Bill. To make matters even more uncertain the Bill is crafted to allow most of the detail to be added AFTER the Bill has been passed!
Products presently classified as ‘Practitioner Only Range’ will not be exempt from the ingredient restrictions.
The proposed financing model of the new system presents significant risk to the majority of NZ small business supplement manufacturers, an outcome likely to result in only a small handful of large manufacturers remaining viable. This will result in a significant loss of variety of product in the natural supplements market in NZ.
The new regulatory system will be funded by industry on a Full Cost Recovery Basis by annual registration charges on all products. Note that there have never been any registration charges before.
These charges will rise as the range of products decreases due to the ‘White-list’ restrictions. Short run products will become economically unviable and thus will be discontinued, forcing smaller operators to close.
Every time a manufacturer reduces its product range or closes its doors, the remaining products and remaining manufacturers will have to shoulder more of the financial burden of funding the agency. The biggest players will benefit from this approach, as they can afford the fees – and this approach will increase their market share. This is one reason why large manufacturers support this bill.
Presently in Australia under the TGA it costs manufacturers $40,000 – $150,000 just to apply for one ingredient to be accepted on their White-list, with no guarantee of success.
There is little incentive to make an application because, if successful, a manufacturers’ competitors are able to benefit at no cost to them. And as only one or two ingredients per year have ever been passed by the TGA, manufacturers are discouraged from even trying. There is no reason to believe that this will not also apply here in NZ should the Bill be passed.
The Pharma based ‘single ingredient approach’, which is the framework of the Bill, is inappropriate and misleading for two reasons:
1. It does not reflect the fact that when NHP ingredients are consumed together, higher doses can be safely tolerated above the consumption of a single ingredient.
2. If any one ingredient in a product exceeds a specified dose, then the entire product will be outlawed in NZ. Most supplements have multiple ingredients, affecting a huge number of supplements that New Zealanders are already relying on for their health and well-being.
The Bill will allow Medsafe (the business unit of the Ministry of Health) to increase its control over NHPs by the following means:
It will reverse the basic historic principle confirming our rights to consume any natural health ingredient that is absent from a short defined ‘Black-list’ of substances where there is robust evidence of harm.
The number of ingredients we can currently access is too high to quantify, yet no deaths have been attributed to these ingredients or products (see “No Deaths from Supplements. No Deaths from Minerals. No Deaths from Amino Acids. No Deaths from Herbs” http://orthomolecular.org/resources/omns/v12n02.shtml)
Our present system will be replaced by a ‘White-list’ of permitted ingredients and only ingredients on this list will be sold in NZ. Furthermore, many permitted ingredients have severe dosage and application restrictions placed upon them. There is no scientific reasoning or justification for such limitations, and no history of risk to human health.
The proposed ‘White-list’ currently contains 5,545 ingredients. This may sound like a lot, but to indicate what this means in terms of what we stand to lose, we only need to add up a small handful of the numerous categories of currently permitted ingredients to appreciate the magnitude of loss. There are so far over 8,000 identified Polyphenols, over 3,000 Enzymes and over 12,000 Medicinal Plants. These few examples alone make it easy to see that only a small fraction of our current range of natural ingredients will remain, should this legislation be enacted.
Permitted Ingredients ‘White-list’ File
It is vitally important for you to check if any ingredients that you presently use in your supplements are not on the permitted list.
You can search the file by entering the ingredient name, or searching alphabetically in the Excel Spreadsheet. If the ingredient is not on the list at all, then it will not be permitted in over-the-counter products. Also check the maximum permitted daily dose, and whether it will be permitted for internal or external application only.
What the Columns Mean
In the ‘Outcome’ column
– ‘Y’ means ‘Permitted’ (but make sure you check the maximum permitted amount, and the application, e.g. Glutathione (an important antioxidant) is permitted, but only for applying to the skin),
– ‘N’ means ‘Unaccepted’,
– ‘U’ means ‘Under Review’.
If the ‘Reason’ column states ‘rejected by IJEACCM on safety grounds’ – IJEACCM stands for ‘The Interim Joint Expert Advisory Committee on Complementary Medicines’, a NZ/Australian initiative.
What is the Background to this Bill?
There has been a de facto pharmaceutical monopoly on medicines for almost 100 years.
When we become ill we need medicines. But pharmaceutical medicines are dangerous and can cause substantial harm.
The monopoly has endured and grown stronger due to laws that have been passed. There have been many discoveries made over those 100 years that offered safer, cheaper and more effective treatments than the pharmaceutical options, but the regulators have always stepped in to prosecute, confiscate product and even imprison the people who made or used the discovery.
Very occasionally the regulators’ attempts to destroy a new discovery are not completely successful, and a natural alternative flourishes for a few years. But the Big Pharma lobbyists respond and it doesn’t take long for new laws to be drafted that strengthen the monopoly and the status quo remains.
We can’t prevent Big Pharma and their lobbyists from trying to maintain and strengthen their position. They are very much aware of the impact that an appropriately regulated Natural Health Product industry would have on their market share. They have a duty to their shareholders to prevent natural medicines from entering the market.
But our elected MPs need to wake up and stop passing such laws. The Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill is Pharma-based and hostile to the interests of the consumer and the Natural Health industry.
Consumers stand to be the biggest losers if this Bill is passed. There are many importers, manufacturers and re-sellers who do not oppose the bill for fear of retribution, as a lot of the fine print will be decided after it has been passed. They hope to be able to stay in business with reduced ranges and less effective products.
Consumers on the other hand, stand to lose access to life saving Natural Health Products.
NHPs can save lives in several ways, from helping people to stay well so the need for pharmaceutical intervention doesn’t arise (the death toll from adverse reactions to properly prescribed pharmaceutical medicines is over 100,000 a year in the USA alone) to products that are capable of returning seriously ill people back to good health.
Health Freedom NZ supports the aims and proposed legislative model of the New Zealand Health Trust. Their mission is to ensure that the consumer comes first in all health regulation, and that Natural Health should be regulated through a stand-alone regulator, not as a division of a larger pharmaceutical or food regulator. When you run this bill through the NZHT checklist of appropriate regulation it fails on every count.
What Can You Do?
This Bill will soon have its third and final reading to become law, and is expected to take effect around June 2016. The Regulations are expected to come into force shortly afterwards.
The consultation document contains a list of 47 questions and a “consultation submission” can be filled out online.
However HFNZ recommends that the questions should not be answered because the regime is fundamentally flawed and engaging in the detail implicitly validates this unsuitable regulatory model.
For those who have limited time to prepare a submission and wish to oppose the Bill in principle, click the link below for a short pre-prepared submission. We recommend you personalise your submission as much as possible.
SEND submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Should you require additional time to make a submission, you should request an extension of time from the Ministry:
1. Submissions on the Consultation Document close at 5pm on Friday 4 March 2016
2. Submissions on the Draft List of Conditions about which a claim can be made & the Draft Permitted List will open on 6 Feb 2016 and close on 31 May 2016.
You can make a submission by emailing: email@example.com
Or by posting your submission to:
Natural Health Products
Ministry of Health
PO Box 5013
Sign and Share the Petition Started by Professor Julia Rucklidge
This is on www.Change.org. Simply add your first name, last name, email, city (and reason if you like) to the text box on the right of the page, then click Sign. https://www.change.org/p/naturalhealthproducts-moh-govt-nz-keep-access-to-nutrients-in-nz-that-have-a-proven-safety-record-and-therapeutic-benefit
We invite all consumers who want to be kept informed of developments and help to save our right of access to Natural Health ingredients to sign up for the Health Freedom Newsletter.