Complaints regarding the advertising and sale of therapeutic products that are not registered as medicines can be made to Medsafe by emailing askmedsafe@moh.govt.nz

When making a complaint to Medsafe, you should detail:

  1. What the product is
  2. Who the seller is
  3. Why the complaint is relevant to Medsafe

Medsafe enforces the Medicines Act 1981. This Act defines what counts as a medicine, and Section 20 restricts the sale and advertising of new medicines to those that have consent from the Minister of Health.

Section 3 of the Act defines medicines as including substances administered to humans “for a therapeutic purpose”, and Section 4 defines therapeutic purpose.

Essentially, any product for human consumption that is advertised with therapeutic claims should require consent from the Minister of Health before it can be advertised or sold. In theory, Medsafe should enforce the Medicines Act in all cases where it is breached. In practice, Medsafe has limited resources so prioritises complaints according to their potential impact on the health of the New Zealand population.

Complaints regarding significant safety concerns or serious therapeutic claims, such as the prevention or treatment of cancer, can be made to Medsafe. However, complaints regarding lower level misleading claims are better suited to other agencies such as the Advertising Standards Authority.

Medsafe also enforces other sections of the Medicines Act such as Section 58 which, among other things, prohibits the use of health testimonials in medical advertisements (Section 58(1)(c)(iii)). However, breaches of Section 20 of the Medicines Act are far more serious.

More details regarding Medsafe’s complaints process can be found in their response to an Official Information Act request in February 2014: Medsafe complaints

Last Modified: Feb 6, 2016 @ 12:14 pm