On Monday, the Prime Minister Julia Gillard, and her New Zealand counterpart John Key, announced that both countries had signed a statement of intent to create a joint authority to regulate medicines and medical devices in both countries.

The new authority, the Australia New Zealand Therapeutic Products Agency (“ANZTPA”), is intended to replace Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (“TGA”) and New Zealand’s Medsafe within five years.  It will be responsible for the regulation of medicines, medical devices and other therapies such as tissue and cellular therapies.  However, natural health products in New Zealand will continue to be regulated separately.

According to the TGA, the scheme will be implemented in three phases:

  1. starting in July, the TGA and Medsafe will begin work sharing arrangements and joint operations to align their practices and share information, resources and expertise;
  2. continuing integration to establish a single entry point for industry and the development of a trans-Tasman regulatory framework; and
  3. the establishment of the single regulator within the next five years.

Click here to see the TGA’s announcement.

If eventually implemented, industry would benefit in a number of ways.  Most obviously, there would be a single entry point for sponsors with reduced licensing and approval costs.  Combined with benefits to the ANZTPA (such as better consistency in standards and a shared workload), this should result in faster approvals and improved regulation for therapeutic goods in both countries.