Bill to set up natural health regulator

Joint Green Party-Government legislation to set up a natural health regulator is being tabled in Parliament today.

Green Party MP Sue Kedgley said the stand-alone regulator would work to protect the growing number of people using natural health products.

"The Green Party strongly supports natural healthcare and I am delighted that more and more people are using these products.

"We want to ensure the sector continues to flourish and that all products on the market are high quality, safe and true-to-label.''

The proposed natural health regulation would cover a wide range of products such as vitamins and Chinese medicines.

There are more than 6000 natural health products on sale in New Zealand and over 450 natural health companies. Those companies have an estimated annual turnover of $760 million.

The initiative to create a natural health regulator, within the Ministry of Health, was developed under the Green and National parties' Memorandum of Understanding.

The legislation to create the natural health regulator is expected to have its first reading in Parliament shortly and is likely to come into effect next year.

I'll add my +1 to this.

I'll add my +1 to this.

 

Medicine

Well, common sense needs to prevail. I have never had a chemist give me money back on a course of antibiotics that didn't work though it was 'quality assured'. Those that use natural health products need to be the deciding factor here. Not the medically-orientated Ministry of Health.

'Natural' health regulator

We already have a process for medicine regulation (see www.medsafe.govt.nz and www.foodsafety.govt.nz).  Please note that so-called "health supplements" are specifically not part of this programme because their economics rely on not proving that such products are safe or effective. 

I've never heard of anyone buying ineffective 'natural health' products and returning them under consumer-protection laws, but that is possible as they are commonly not fit for a particular purpose.  At a time when government and customer resources are stretched so thin, it would be reprehensible to create a new bureacracy based on inherently flawed ideals.  I would suggest, instead, that all over-the-counter consumables or health-related consultations be rolled into the existing regulatory structures for medicines and doctors.   Citizens could then confidently spend their money only on those products and services held to standards we expect from a responsible national infrastructure. 

What societal good would be gained by creating a new agency with a lower standard of care and protection?  I think the greatest good would be to identify, by their support for this regulator, which MPs care enough about their constituents to read and understand effective health-care research and those which are swayed solely by economics and flim-flam.[Abridged]

The stand-alone regulator

"the stand-alone regulator would work to protect the growing number of people using
natural health products"

I wonder if this protection includes the consumer's wallet. While many products on the list have evidence to back them and are actually efficacious there's many othes for which there is no evidence to back the claims. In these cases the consumer is being ripped off.

I'm hoping to see something relating to the effectivness of the medicines in the reading of the legislation.

Qualified enthusiasm about natural health regulator

Sue Kedgley says "We want to ensure the [natural health products] sector continues to flourish and that
all products on the market are high quality, safe and
true-to-label.'' 

Excellent, as far as it goes. What she omitted, which is an important consumer protection, is monitoring that as well as safe the products are literally effective to the standard required of "unnatural" - i.e. from conventional  pharmaceutical companies - health products. 

Where products are sold that cannot be shown to be effective remedies for the purpose for which they are sold the customer is being ripped off, preyed on by merchants who in some cases have sincere but unfounded belief in the product and in other cases can spot a gullible vulnerable person a country mile off. 

Water containing not an atom of an any other substance but alleged to work because it has a memory of that substance - though not, oddly enough, no recall of having at some stage been a major constituent of horse effluent - is an example of a product that is safe.  Unless in large quantities, that is, when drowning could be a serious side effect.

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