16 July 2012

The onus on distributors and producers of party pills and other synthetic drugs to prove they are safe before they can be sold on the market is strongly supported by the New Zealand Medical Association (NZMA), which has previously called for tougher legislation on these products.

New drug legislation was announced today by Associate Health Minister Peter Dunne.

“We needed legislation with a far more stringent set of rules to protect the public from the dangerous side-effects of these drugs,” says NZMA Deputy Chair Dr Mark Peterson. “It was very concerning that before today’s announcement there was no onus of proof on those that sell these drugs to provide evidence that they are safe.”

 “Until now we’ve had a situation where these unregulated drugs could be sold until they were proven dangerous, rather than assessing their risk before they were made available for sale to the public.”

Dr Peterson says the Government’s work to place restrictions on the sale and marketing of party pills and other legal highs, through proposed amendments to the Misuse of Drugs Act, is essential for ensuring public safety.

“From now on those who wish to sell these products will need to produce scientific data as is required for assessing and introducing any new medicines to the market. We expect that this will reduce the availability of these products.”

The legislation will be introduced later this year and implemented mid-next year.

“We are pleased, however, that in the meantime there will be a holding measure through the Temporary Class Drug Notices so that there is no opportunity for banned substances to return to the market before the law comes in,” says Dr Peterson.

He commended Mr Dunne for the commitment and effort he has put into strengthening drug legislation, which had led to more of these products being banned.