New Zealand health minister Andrew Little has reiterated the government’s commitment to the country’s new Medicinal Cannabis Scheme in the face of industry criticism that it is too stringent.
Speaking at the MedCan Summit 2022 last week, Little told delegates: “I acknowledge that there is a cost to regulatory compliance in New Zealand. I have heard the minority feedback about whether the quality standard requirements are too strict or unattainable.
“Our standards are focused on ensuring world class safety and quality. They are set to protect patients and to give prescribers confidence that the products they are prescribing will not contain harmful contaminants, and contain stable and consistent levels of active ingredients as stated.
“The standards we have are an essential foundation for Aotearoa New Zealand’s reputation as a world leading, trusted supplier into the future.
Little added the fact that 10 products have now been verified against the quality standards “speaks for itself”. However, he acknowledged that changes to the scheme will eventually be required as world markets mature.
The minister also acknowledged patient concerns around the cost of approved medicinal cannabis products, but said decisions on what medicines are publicly funded rest with the Pharmaceutical Management Agency (Pharmac).
“Pharmac generally looks at efficacy as well as safety, and I would note that efficacy is not part of the regulatory regime. It is up to industry to consider a higher medicines approval process through MedSafe if proven efficacy is sought.”
Little noted locally manufactured CBD products are now available at a lower cost than imported ones, adding the market would ultimately determine pricing.
“Simply put, supply and demand economics should see consumer prices come down as more products come to market,” he added.