MEDIA RELEASE: Government must engage with natural health sector to make urgent legislation

19 July 2023

Health Minister Ayesha Verrall and officials must engage more meaningfully with the natural health product sector on workable regulations under the Therapeutic Products legislation passed under urgency to realise its full benefits and minimise unintended consequences, Natural Health Products New Zealand says.

Natural Health Products NZ represents around 80% of the natural health products sector, including small, medium and large manufacturers, distributors and suppliers which together create thousands of jobs and contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to New Zealand exports.

“The sector has mixed emotions about the passage of the Therapeutic Products Bill by Parliament,” Natural Health Products NZ Government Affairs Director Samantha Gray said. “We have serious concerns with the implementation of the legislation. However, we are also reflecting on the decades of work that has been done by so many within Natural Health Products NZ and the sector to move beyond the outdated and restrictive status quo of the very outdated dietary supplements regulations.”

The natural health products sector currently contributes an estimated $2.3 billion to the economy, including $640 million in exports. Natural Health Products NZ members have estimated that they could increase their own exports by over $500 million per year with sensible regulation.

“While there are some positive changes in the Bill for exports and health benefit claims, we are concerned that the Government is undermining any gains by pushing ahead with a system that risks making the New Zealand natural health products industry uncompetitive. This legislation as passed establishes a highly bureaucratic authorisation system for natural health products, as opposed to a simpler and more efficient notification scheme that would have represented international best practice and has wide support in the sector and across Parliament,” Ms Gray said. “We are grateful to Dr. Shane Reti for introducing two SOPs in the committee of the whole house stage that would have vastly improved the workability of this legislation if they had been supported by the government.”

“As it stands, we have serious concerns the new regulator will simply be unable to effectively authorise a backlog of 20,000 different natural health products that are already sold safely, even without the pressure of new approvals, which will cause delays, cost and red tape for a high-value industry that already punches above its weight and has huge potential for international export earnings. We are concerned that the Bill creates the potential for regulatory creep towards a medicines-type regulatory model which is beyond that required to effectively regulate lower risk NHPs”
“We are ready to work with the government to ensure that these impacts can be mitigated, and the sector can continue to flourish for consumers, workers, and the economy.”

Samantha Gray
Government Affairs Director
Natural Health Products NZ
m +64 21 119 7226 |

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