04 Sep New Zealand: The Food (Health Supplements) Amendment Bill was recently submitted to the Member’s Bill Ballot
What does this new bill propose? Bringing health supplements under the framework of food regulation, this newly proposed bill is set to replace the Natural Health and Supplementary Products Bill which lapsed just last year.
Will a Supplements Law Change in SA Encourage Innovation?
So why is this relevant to the South African market? Because our very own CAMS industry is calling for the very same supplement regulation – to fall under the rightful framework of food regulation. But, as you may already know, the regulation of dietary supplements and alternative medicines in South Africa is severely stunted under the Medicines and Related Substances Amendment Act of 2008.
Mostly, this act works to classify dietary supplements and alternative medicines into a pharmaceutical paradigm, where they really don’t belong. As such, the dietary supplements industry is left to compete with the stringent regulations of the pharmaceutical industry, which has, in turn, stunted the innovation and regulation of bringing new products to the market that could benefit consumers.
A great stride forward for New Zealand
The newly proposed Food (Health Supplements) Amendment Bill is set to open many a door in terms of product innovation and investment in research into new products. This is the very same kind of change that South African regulation needs in order to lift the restrictive cloud on product innovation in this country.
So, what does this new bill propose? As mentioned, it aims to bring dietary supplements and alternative medicines into the realm of food regulation, where it belongs. But along with this, it will also allow product suppliers to substantiate health claims with regards to new products. This would lead to an increased sense of transparency surrounding all new supplementary products which are brought to the market, increasing consumer trust and demand.
Under this newly proposed bill, health supplements would include: all herbal remedies, traditional medicines, homeopathic remedies, dietary supplements and their synthetic equivalents. This is a great stride forward for the natural products industry in New Zealand as it contributes approximately $1.4 billion to the New Zealand economy each year, while the exports industry contributes $285 million per annum.
Additional benefits of the Food (Health Supplements) Amendment Bill
Joanne Bisset, General Manager of the New Zealand Wellness Association (NZWA), has said that this new bill makes for an excellent opportunity for the natural health industry to work with parliament in creating a framework that is ‘’risk-proportionate”. Essentially, it creates an opportunity for consumers in New Zealand and abroad to make informed choices about their health and the supplementary products they buy.
Restrictive regulation of the CAMS industry in South Africa and many other countries essentially restricts what suppliers can say about their products, even if there is good quality research to support health claims. As such, this presents a considerable obstacle for local suppliers who are competing in both the physical and online markets.
This new bill is set to lift this restrictive regulation and create an incredible opportunity for the New Zealand health industry and the innovation of new products. It will also offer independent businesses the chance to lower their compliance costs, in turn reducing product costs to the consumer. In support of New Zealand’s culture of innovation, the Food (Health Supplements) Amendment Bill aims to lower all barriers of entry into the New Zealand consumer market.
How South Africa can learn from New Zealand
South African parliament could do with taking a leaf out of New Zealand’s book. By doing so, regulatory bodies could recognise that by lifting the restrictions on innovation and the ability to share research information, this could lead to industry upliftment.
Ultimately, this could produce a better flow of information regarding supplementary products. A change in incentive structure could also encourage further research into the benefits of products, leading to additional support for existing products and new products to be brought to market.
Whether this lesson is to be taken on-board by the Minister of Health remains to be seen, but the South African Health Products Regulatory Authority will keep fighting the good fight!