Fluoride added to domestic water supplies is not subject to the Medicines Act, the High Court has found.

In a judgment delivered today, Justice David Collins found when fluoride was added to domestic water supply at a concentration of 1.5 milligrams per litre it could not be defined as a medicine.

New Health New Zealand Inc, an anti-fluoride group, had taken on the Attorney General in the High Court, arguing fluoride must be subject to the Medicines Act.

Justice Collins said in his judgment he would not get in to the efficacy and safety of fluoridation.

Advertisement

"The efficacy and safety of fluoridation of water is a topic that engenders strong debate and disagreement.

"There has been a raft of litigation over the introduction of fluoride to domestic water supplies in New Zealand and many other western countries. However, I do not have to address those issues in this proceeding."

He focused on whether or not fluoride could be defined as a medicine.

He said the dose of fluoride added to domestic water was so low it could not be considered a medicine in that context.

"...when fluoride is added to domestic water at the authorised levels, it falls outside of the definition of "medicine" in the Act," he said.

He said that if fluoride were to be added to domestic water supplies in concentrations of 10 mg per litre or more, it would be defined as a medicine.

Justice Collins described New Health's arguments and "legitimate ... in the public interest" and decided to waive costs.

New Health New Zealand Inc had previously lost a case against South Taranaki Council in which they claimed adding fluoride to domestic water constituted treatment under the Bill of Rights Act.