A legal-high lobbyist has hit out at the National Poisons
Centre, saying the reporting system is ''clearly flawed'', as
the industry gets hit by expensive recalls.
However, the Dunedin-based centre has rejected the
accusation, saying its system was ''robust''.
Grant Hall, of the Star Trust, contacted the Otago Daily
Times following a story of a father speaking out about legal
highs after his son ended up on life-support.
His 24-year-old son was taken to Dunedin Hospital after
smoking the legal high Karma recently.
A spike of calls to the National Poisons Centre has led to
five legal-high products being pulled from New Zealand
shelves. The products - AK47, Anarchy, Northern Lights, Primo
and Voodoo - appeared to all contain the same active
The industry was committed to better health outcomes, but
with each recall costing legal-high brand owners in the
''hundreds of thousands of dollars'', it was important that
system was robust.
''This is a pretty serious investment and these decisions
should not be made lightly,'' Mr Hall said.
''The industry needs the opportunity to look at the evidence,
what can we learn from the evidence and what can it tell
us,'' he said.
He questioned whether vodka would be pulled off the shelves
if someone suffered chest pains and ended up in hospital.
The Star Trust's research showed many incidents of harm
occurred when users combined legal highs with other drugs or
were underage, against the industry's own guidelines Mr Hall
said the National Poisons Centre should be audited, as the
reporting system was ''clearly flawed''.
''We just want to look and validate these claims so we know
what the evidence is and therefore we can extract some good
information and make future products even safer.''
National Poisons Centre toxicologist Dr Leo Schep said the
centre recorded each call, and the name and number of each
''We have a robust paper trail ... and have for years.''
Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne said the public could
have confidence in the regime.
''I can assure you that regulatory action does and will occur
The monitoring of adverse side-effects through the risk
assessment framework meant products such as Karma and four
other legal highs had been ordered from shelves.
The overriding purpose of the Psychoactive Substance Act was
to minimise harm to members of the public who chose to use
those approved products.
Asked if he was concerned that people had to become ill
before a legal product was recalled, Mr Dunne replied ''It is
because people were being harmed that the Act was brought
The present set of interim product applications had been
assessed. and only those that did not have reports of adverse
effects were granted interim approval. ''These products are
subject to active and ongoing scrutiny and testing by health
professionals and police,'' he said.
When Karma was approved by authorities, its risk score did
not indicate more than a low risk of harm, he said.
''It is the ongoing monitoring and data collected
subsequently that has led to a change in score and the recall