Tauranga Sunrise Rotary has been forced to relaunch its heart attack lifesaver after falling foul of Government health watchdog Medsafe.

Savealife originally consisted of a little key ring capsule that held a blood-thinning aspirin tablet, but after a highly successful first year on the market, the Rotary club had to stop sales.

Project co-ordinator Dave Woodhouse said they got a call from Medsafe last September to say that what they were doing was illegal.

Medsafe, the Ministry of Health agency tasked with ensuring over-the-counter medications were safe, said Rotary should not be cutting up strips of aspirin tablets and selling them as singles.


Mr Woodhouse said that after months of talking and negotiations, they reached a compromise.

Rotary could sell empty capsules accompanied by a full, unopened pack of aspirin, ensuring the buyer was able to read instructions on dosage, the expiry date and other advice on the packet. It was up to the purchaser to put the aspirin into the capsule.

Mr Woodhouse said taking the capsules off the market meant Savealife had lost a lot of momentum after achieving sales in the first year of more than $75,000.

"It was very successful.''

He said Savealife had lived up to its name.

The new website quoted Marton resident Paul Whitehead who was told by a hospital doctor that if he had not chewed an aspirin, he would not have survived the heart attack.

''I owe my life to the fact that Margaret had a Savealife capsule.''

Mr Woodhouse said the club had no idea it was against the law until Medsafe raised it.

"We could see Medsafe's point of view ... we have no issue with them. We are only interested in saving lives."

Mr Woodhouse said what happened was a shame, but he was hopeful the relaunch would get sales back on track.

Instead of the unit price for a capsule and aspirin costing $4 each, the new requirement would have put the cost of a packet of aspirins out of proportion to the cost of a capsule.

Mr Woodhouse said the relaunch had an introductory offer of $12 for three key ring capsules and a packet of 20 aspirin. It would usually cost $15. The capsule also held an instruction card.

The first launch in 2015 saw Tauranga Sunrise Rotary offering Savealife at a discount to other Rotary clubs in New Zealand and overseas.

Savealife aspirin capsules
- Chew aspirin at first indication of heart attack.
- Inhibits platelets that cause clots in coronary artery.
- Could buy up to 60 minutes of time and save life.