Supplement linked to liver damage removed from shelves.
Arthrem supplements have been pulled from sale and the manufacturer has admitted to illegally marketing the product, which has been linked to serious cases of liver harm.
Arthrem supplements were manufactured by Promisia Integrative and touted for people with arthritis.
However, the company has avoided court action after reaching a settlement with Medsafe. The deal requires Promisia to cease manufacturing, selling and advertising the supplement.
The company also accepted it breached the Medicines Act by making therapeutic claims for the product. These claims made the product an unapproved medicine, which breached the act as all medicines sold in New Zealand must be vetted by Medsafe.
As a result of the settlement, Medsafe has withdrawn the nine charges it laid against the company last year.
Medsafe first warned Promisia in 2016 that its advertising breached the Medicines Act. In 2018, Medsafe released reports linking Arthrem to cases of liver harm, including hepatitis, abnormal liver function and jaundice.
Despite this, Promisia continued supplying Arthrem to both New Zealand and overseas consumers.
Medsafe group manager Chris James said Arthrem was intended for a therapeutic purpose but was marketed under the guise of a dietary supplement.
It should have been subjected to the more rigorous controls required for medicines, he said.
James said a settlement was seen as preferable given the length of time likely to be involved in pursuing a prosecution.
Even if the company had been prosecuted, the maximum penalty under the act is limited to $100,000.