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SELECT COMMITTEE FAILS TO REACH AGREEMENT ON THERAPEUTICS BILL
SELECT COMMITTEE FAILS TO REACH AGREEMENT ON THERAPEUTICS BILL By Sophie Hazelhurst, of NZPA.Wellington, June 15 NZPA - The select committee charged with considering the polarising Therapeutic Products and Medicines Bill has been unable to reach agreement, it reported today.The government administration select committee said it had examined the Bill and was unable to reach agreement, and therefore could not recommend the Bill be passed.The impasse leaves the Bill in the hands of the Government. It had become increasingly unlikely the Bill would be passed in its present form.The Bill squeaked through its first reading on a vote of 61 to 60, but the Government's ability to pass it has been in doubt since independent MPs Taito Phillip Field and Gordon Copeland said they would vote against it.The bill has been deeply divisive, with those from the medical devices and pharmaceutical industries largely for it, but many in the complementary health sector against it.Under the regime, a joint Australia/New Zealand agency would regulate therapeutic products. Opponents have said regulation would impose unnecessary prohibitive compliance costs that would squeeze out smaller producers, limiting consumer choice. The regulations were overly onerous for low-risk therapeutic products.Those in favour have argued regulation is needed to ensure consumer safety and quality of products.The select committee received 895 submissions, three quarters of which were from individuals, generally opposed to the joint regulation of therapeutic products, it said. Labour members of the select committee said in the report while they agreed complementary medicines generally posed minor risks compared with pharmaceuticals, they were still not risk-freeBoth National and Green Party said they would like therapeutic products exempt from the bill, operating under a New Zealand regulatory regime.Both queried the level of search and seizure powers allowed under the bill -- which allows searches with warrants to be done to monitor compliance.Green MP Sue Kedgley, a non-voting member of the committee, said she was delighted the committee had not recommended the bill be passed.She said the bill as it stood was onerous, draconian and the powers of search and seizure unprecedented in New Zealand. New Zealand First leader Winston Peters this week announced he was drafting an amendment to the bill which should attract "overwhelming political support. He said he would introduce a supplementary order paper outlining a compromise to the bill which should satisfy all parties.His proposal would see an clause for those in the complementary health sector, which would mean companies would only need to meet the regulations of the trans-Tasman agency if they wished to operate in Australia.>Companies that wished to trade solely within New Zealand would be governed by a domestic regulatory regime.He said consideration should be given to allowing those in the medical devices sector to also be governed by a local regime if they wished to operate solely in the domestic market.;We believe there would be overwhelming political support within parliament for this alternative, given that the numbers do not exist within parliament for the present bill.The Government had already begun considering the compromise, he said. Acting Prime Minister Michael Cullen this week said discussions on the bill were ongoing http://www.nzhealthtrust.co.nz/news.htmlTherapeutic Products and Medicines Bill (103-1) (15 June 2007)(as reported by the Government Administration Committee) click here for the PDF <http://www.nzhealthtrust.co.nz/pdf/DBSCH_SCR_3786_5086.pdf>