20 December 2006
Anderton releases advice on BZP to warn consumers
The Expert Advisory Committee on Drugs (EACD) has recommended the Government make benzylpiperazine (BZP), phenylpiperazines and related piperazines, common ingredients in 'party pills', illegal because of the risk of harm.
In releasing the EACD advice today, Associate Health Minister Jim Anderton said the consideration of this advice is the first step in the process required of him in terms of his statutory decision-making power. However, because individuals are currently taking these substances in commonly available so-called 'party pills', it is important that this advice is available to the public so that everyone is aware of the dangers.
Mr Anderton said that there are now a number of studies and reports from health researchers in New Zealand which outline the real and potential harm caused by 'party pills' containing BZP. One trial showed frequent and severe side effects from the drug's use and suggested potential for serious harm in some individuals, even at relatively low and recommended doses.
"While there have been no recorded deaths attributed solely to the use of BZP, we know that severe adverse effects from the use of 'party pills' occur unpredictably. The expert committee was concerned that the seizures which have been recorded have the potential to kill. Everyone should know that.”
Mr Anderton said while there is now a body of New Zealand research which shows the risks that BZP poses, there are a number of legal steps he must take before he can make a final decision on whether to recommend that BZP is banned. These include seeking further information and advice, consulting fully with other Government agencies, and seeking the views of the wider community as well as those manufacturing and selling products containing BZP.
"My aim is to have the consultation process completed by March 2007 but until then it is important that the public has good information upon which to base any decision to purchase BZP-based 'party pills'. It is for this reason that I am releasing the expert advice at this time," Mr Anderton said.
“I say to those who would have me ignore my legal responsibilities and make my decision now, that I don’t consider myself above the law and will make and announce my decision as soon as I reasonably can, given my legal responsibilities under the Misuse of Drugs Act."
In New Zealand, BZP is currently able to be sold to individuals over the age of 18. The recommendation from the EACD is that BZP should be given a similar classification to that of cannabis, making it illegal to sell, buy or possess the drug.