Importing veterinary medicines and supplements into New Zealand

In my NZ Dog World column this month, I promised to include more information about the importing requirements if you are considering buying a supplement or medicine from overseas.  Here’s that information…

I’ll caution you again – this is not an easy area to work in or understand!  (Although the NZ Food Safety Authority recommends using a consultant for importing applications, I tried to contact two consultants from the consultants list to clarify a few points for my research.  Neither have replied.)

Until this month, the NZFSA used something called the Register of Allowable Nutrients with Known Therapeutic Uses in Exempt Oral Nutritional Compounds.  Glucosamine, for example, was included on the register.  The NZFSA website has recently announced:

“The register of allowable nutrients with known therapeutic uses in exempt oral nutritional compounds is no longer in use. Nutrients formerly listed on that register will now be evaluated solely on safety and pharmacological thresholds as applicable. Products with expressly stated or obviously implied therapeutic and/or pharmacological claims will still require registration. The limitations on species uses or pure supplements will no longer be applied.

I asked NZFSA what this means for the average pet owner who many want to buy a glucosamine supplement from an overseas supplier that was previously allowed into the country.  I got a very prompt reply from Linley Thorburn, an Advisor at the NZFSA (which was much appreciated).

She says:

There must be a clear nutritional claim made on the label for the product to be considered exempt.  If the product is making a claim to treat arthritis, then the product would require registration and be supported by efficacy data. Also, safety thresholds will be established for oral nutritional compounds that contain ingredients like, glucosamine, chondroitin etc.

Products currently registered containing these ingredients that have a clear nutritional claim will no longer require registration.

It sounds like the work to establish the safety thresholds hasn’t happened yet, but the fact that products that are currently registered that contain the ingredients will no longer require registration means that direct importing should become easier.

As I mentioned in my article, the best thing to check before considering purchasing a product from overseas is the ACVM register.  Look for the product by name and if it is registered, chances are you won’t be able to import it directly unless it falls under the new requirements.

In addition, this month MAF announced new rules for “Registration by Reference”   In some circumstances, the NZFSA will allow determinations made by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) to carry weight in New Zealand – reducing the time and costs for the registration process.   This change only pertains to products for non-food producing animals (i.e., pets).

MAF says that this move could encourage a greater range of products to be registered in the New Zealand market, particularly for products with a limited demand.  If this open doors to more product selection, dog owners and veterinary professionals will have a wider range of choices for animal care.

My fingers are crossed that suppliers and veterinary medicine companies will take advantage of this change!

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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One response to “Importing veterinary medicines and supplements into New Zealand

  1. Hi There Doggymom,
    Maybe a little off topic, however, This is a warning, not a question. On March 13, 2011’s “60 Minutes”, there was an expose about the widespread problem of counterfeit prescription drugs manufactured in Asia (mostly India and China) being sold in America and elsewhere. The packaging and pills themselves are often identical to the naked eye, so even pharmacists and physicians would not be suspicious until the medicines fail to work as they should, or cause adverse reactions. Medications manufactured in the USA are not necessarily untainted, either, since the compounds used in their creation are usually imported.

    I would caution against buying any veterinary prescription meds being sold online without prescription, and examine packaging for any obvious clues (e.g. misspellings) that the medication isn’t genuine. Let your vet know if anything s/he dispenses isn’t working.
    Keep up the posts!

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