New law: Drugs must be proved safe for sale

JOHN HARTEVELT
Last updated 11:26 16/07/2012
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All party pills are set to be removed from shelves within a year and subject to a new safety test before any can be sold again.

Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne this morning announced he would introduce legislation in October or November this year that would deliver ''the knockout blow'' to the party pills industry.

The Government has been applying temporary one year bans to new substances as they emerged, which amounted to a ''game of catch-up'' with the industry.

But Dunne said a new regime would reverse the onus of proof for safety, making all psychoactive substances illegal until approved by a new unit within the health ministry.

''All these substances will need to be cleared from a pharmacological, a toxicological and also a clinical point of view before they can be allowed anywhere near the shelves,'' Dunne said.

A ''long period of testing'' would be required before any substances could be approved, in the same way any new medications had to be approved.

Manufacturers would have to pay for the cost of regulation, which could cost them something like $1 million to $2m per annum.

What was acceptable as safe would be decided by the new administrator, but Dunne said his preference was for there to be no more party pills at all.

''We'll be looking for evidence of the pharmacology and toxicology risks involved [and] we'll be looking for evidence of clinical trials. It won't be a sort of once over lightly process,'' Dunne said.

''If that deters some people from bringing products to market that they think might not pass muster then so-be-it, that's a good thing.''

Dunne denied the regime risked pushing the industry underground, because the industry supported a formal regime being set up.

The current approach of temporary bans had seen 28 substances and more than 50 products that contained taken them off the market. That had contributed to a 75 per cent drop in the number of emergency call incidents around synthetic cannabis products.

The new approach, which Dunne planned to be in place by this time next year, would ''deliver the knockout blow''.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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