Medsafes so-called Nanny-State Power Play to ban cough remedies in supermarkets is absurd and does not draw on international evidence or common sense.

Medsafe’s “Nanny state power play” to ban cough remedies in supermarkets is absurd and does not draw on international evidence or common sense, says Katherine Rich, Chief Executive of the Food & Grocery Council.

The current consultation is fundamentally flawed she says, because the document being used to base these discussions is so full of factual errors and misrepresentations.

The impact of the proposal is extreme. Banning the sale of 70 cough and cold remedies from supermarkets and dairies will mean that New Zealanders pay up to 30-45% more for the same products in pharmacies.

New Zealanders’ access to these products when they suffer coughs and colds will be dramatically reduced.

Rich says the Medsafe submission to the Medicines Classifications Committee (MCC) has two main arguments: that the United Kingdom has made all these products “pharmacy only” (so New Zealand must automatically follow) and that this recommendation is supported by the Medsafe’s Cough and Cold Review Group.

Both statements, which are used to add weight to the proposal, she says are factually wrong and misleading. The United Kingdom has not banned the sale of adult formulations and products such as cough lozenges. Lemsip hot drinks and other cough/cold remedies for those over the age of twelve years remain freely available in supermarkets on general sale.

The Cough and Cold Review Group did not recommend a change; rather it referred the classification of certain actives to the MCC for consideration for children up to 12 years of age. The FGC also points out that if the MCC supports this sales ban, it will reclassify a series of products which Medsafe only approved for general sale less than a year ago, a “regulatory flip-flop” that makes New Zealand look disorganised in terms of its regulatory processes.

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