Therapeutic Products Bill NZ | HealthPost's Opinion

The Therapeutic
Products Bill 

The Therapeutic Products Bill 

How are dietary supplements regulated in New Zealand?

Currently, the Medicines Act 1981 is the primary legislative tool that enables access to safe medicines and medical devices in New Zealand. That Act does not cover many products used in modern health care, however, including natural health products.

Natural health products (often referred to as NHPs) are currently regulated by the Dietary Supplements Regulations 1985 under the Food Act 2014.

This framework is due to be updated to provide greater assurance of quality and consistency in NZ natural product standards. This is important for our exporters and consumers. The current framework also fails to allow for, or adequately regulate, health benefit claims for natural products, and this needs to be addressed.

What is the Therapeutic Products Act and why will it be repealed?

The Therapeutic Products Bill was proposed in 2023 to replace the current Medicines Act 1981 and Dietary Supplements Regulations 1985 to provide comprehensive regulation of all therapeutic products. It was due to come into effect in 2026. The coalition government has confirmed that the act will be repealed

The aim of the Act was to provide for:

  • Acceptable safety, quality and efficacy or performance of medicines, medical devices and active pharmaceutical ingredients across their lifecycle; and
  • Acceptable safety and quality of natural health products across their lifecycle.

The Act covered:

  • Establishing a Therapeutic Products Regulator
  • Requiring therapeutic products to receive a market authorisation before they could be imported into, exported from, or supplied in New Zealand
  • The regulation of controlled activities, including the manufacturing and exporting of natural health products.

While updated legislation was overdue and necessary, there was an overwhelming response from the New Zealand public and natural health industry that the Therapeutic Products Bill was not fit for purpose. 97% of public submissions to the Bill were opposed to the changes. However, the Bill was passed into law and became the Therapeutic Products Act in 2023.

What were the concerns for the Therapeutic Products Act?

  • Continued availability and affordability of natural health products for the public
  • Increased restrictions and costs for the manufacturing and sale of natural health products for the industry

Therapeutic Products Bill to be repealed

The current Coalition Government confirmed in May 2024 that the Therapeutic Products Act will be repealed.

The Associate Health Minister Casey Costello has pledged to create regulations that “balanced risk with oversight and efficiency” when she spoke at the NHPNZ annual conference at the end of May.

Costello confirmed that there would be new regulations specific to natural health products, rather than being combined with regulations for medicines and medical devices.

The Government has committed to repeal the Bill and start work on new legislation by the end of 2024.

What does this mean for natural health products in New Zealand?

Because the Therapeutic Products Act is to be repealed before it was due to come into effect in September 2026, the current regulations (Medicines Act 1981 and Dietary Supplements Regulations 1985) will continue as is. This means that there will not be any changes to how you currently access supplements for the time being, until new legislation is developed.

What’s HealthPost’s perspective?

HealthPost was founded to make the benefits of natural health as widely available as possible. And our founding ethos holds true today: we exist to help people like you live naturally healthy lives.

We hope to see updated legislation that ensures continued access to natural health products with standards that uphold safety, efficacy and affordability for consumers.

HealthPost supports regulation for natural health products that is fit for purpose. We look forward to learning more as the new legislation is proposed and ensuring our community and the natural health industry have their voices heard, prioritising New Zealand’s best interests via improved legislation.