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Arthritis sufferers devastated pain reliever not allowed in NZ

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Arthritis sufferer Thelma Buck, of Invercargill, is devasted a pain relief product has been blocked from entering New ...

John Hawkins

Arthritis sufferer Thelma Buck, of Invercargill, is devasted a pain relief product has been blocked from entering New Zealand.

An Australian-made supplement which has given some arthritis sufferers in Southland a new lease on life has been blocked from entering the country, devastating users.

The liquid supplement, Arborvitae, is marketed as an arthritis pain reliever and health supplement across the Tasman.

Until recently it was being imported into New Zealand and onsold to Kiwis by a Canterbury-based company, while other New Zealanders were buying it online directly from Australia.

Arborvitae, arthritis pain relief supplement, blocked from entering New Zealand.

John Hawkins

Arborvitae, arthritis pain relief supplement, blocked from entering New Zealand.

However, the Ministry for Primary Industries says it poses a biosecurity risk and has banned it from entering the country.

Among the users of Arborvitae are two Invercargill women who say the product has deadened their arthritic pain and allowed them to live a better quality of life.

However, they now fear the pain will return if they can no longer access the product.

A Ministry for Primary Industries spokesman said Arborvitae was not allowed into New Zealand because it did not meet New Zealand's biosecurity requirements.

It contains a level of honey that is prohibited unless it has been heat-treated to ensure potential bugs are destroyed.

In order to clear biosecurity requirements, the product requires an official declaration stating the honey has been heat treated.

"MPI has communicated this requirement to the importer," the MPI spokesman said.

"While we sympathise with those who wish to buy the product, we must apply New Zealand's biosecurity rules evenly because any exceptions could lead to incursions of bugs and pests."

Arthritis sufferer Thelma Buck, of Invercargill, said she was devastated the product was no longer allowed in the country.

She turned to the product when her GP said she should no longer take pills for her arthritis because it affected her blood pressure.

The 72-year-old had been buying Arborvitae for three months months off a Christchurch company that was importing it from Australia.

Buck said she had suffered from arthritic pain for 30 years and had tried many things to help ease the pain, but Arborvitae was the best.

Before she began taking Arborvitae, she used a walker to get around town and now she only needs a walking stick.

She can also sleep through the night, having previously being unable to sleep for the pain.

"It absolutely deadens the pain from arthritis. You don't feel the pain.

"Now I can walk around the house whereas I was thinking I might have to go into a home."

Buck's sister-in-law, Ray Riley, who also suffers from arthritis, said it had made a massive difference to her life.

She is in less pain than previously and can move around more than she could in the past.

"It's made a hell of a lot of difference."

Andrew Thorman, owner of Jet Trading Ltd in Christchurch (GoHerbal.co.nz)which was importing Arborvitae from Australia for three months until a fortnight ago, said he had since received calls from upset Kiwi customers unable to buy it.

"It's had huge success in Australia and I am trying to make it available in New Zealand so people can reap its benefits."

He sells a number of products but Arborvitae was a "standout as far as making a noticeable difference very quickly to people's lives".

Vic Davidson, the Australian businessman who "invented" the Arborvitae supplement, said it was listed with the TGA in Australia as a "complementary medicine", which was a medicine that did not contain drugs.

The TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration] regulates therapeutic goods in Australia.

"We sell 3000 to 4000 bottles a week in Australia, it's in a lot of chemist shops.

He was trying to get the issue resolved so it could be sold in New Zealand.

Former Canterbury Bankstown rugby league player Graeme Hughes has publicly endorsed the product online.

- The Southland Times

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