Professor Ken Harvey speaking at the Australian Skeptics National Convention 2012
Professor Ken Harvey, adjunct Associate Professor at the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University, and described by The Age as an “anti-quackery crusader” has been appointed President of Friends of Science in Medicine.
FSM is an Australian lobby group which “supports evidence-based medicine and strongly opposes the promotion and practice of unsubstantiated therapies that lack a scientifically plausible rationale.”
by Dr Ken Harvey, with an introduction by Ken Greatorex
To set the scene for those not familiar with the glacial machinations of Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration: Until recently in Australia we had a complaint process whereby if you wanted to complain about the advertising of a particular listed medicine, you submitted. to the Complaints Resolution Panel. It was woefully under resourced, but it did its job, carried out inquiries then reported established breaches in conduct to the TGA. The TGA acted – sometimes.
Then things changed. Against the urging of such groups as The Australian Skeptics, Friends of Science in Medicine, Choice and other consumer advocates, the TGA became the body which dealt directly with such complaints.
As one who attended and absorbed the excellent review from Professor Harvey and three of his students, the result of this change has been:
(left to right: Mal Vickers, Kithmini Cooray, Mary Malek, Ken Harvey)
The audience did not agree that the ongoing advertising of ‘Bright Brains’, illustrated by Kithmini, had achieved compliance with the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code 2015. In short, they disagreed with the TGA outcome statement about this complaint. Read the rest of this entry »
The Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science has awarded Dr Ken Harvey the 2016 ANZAAS Medal.
The medal is awarded annually for services for the advancement of science or administration and organisation of scientific activities, or the teaching of science throughout Australia and New Zealand and in contributions to science which lie beyond normal professional activities. Previous winners of the medal include Sir Gus Nossal, Sir Mark Oliphant and Harry Messel. Read the rest of this entry »
Dr Ken Harvey, a friend of the Vic Skeptics was recently interviewed on ABC Radio National. (play the interview below)
The subject up for discussion was advertising by chiropractic businesses. The interview was prompted by an article Dr Ken Harvey recently authored for the MJA (Australian Medical Journal).
In the article, Ken expresses his concerns that not much has changed in the last five years since the regulator, AHPRA (incorporating the Chiropractic Board of Australia, CBA), issued a warning via a newsletter for chiropractors to clean up their advertising.
The Board asks all chiropractors to review their advertising including their websites as a priority to ensure that the content meets the advertising requirements of the National Law and the provisions of the Guidelines on Advertising. There are criminal penalties for breaching section 133 of the National Law, which is set out in the attachment to this communiqué.
Sunday was another line up of excellent speakers, DJ Grothe, Dr Ken Harvey, Dr Rachael Dunlop, Stephen Mayne, Lawrence Leung, James “The Amazing” Randi and many more. Look carefully in this set of images for a certain life member and secretary of a state branch jamming with Paul Conroy on guitar.
Congratulations to Dr Ken Harvey.The Australian Consumers Association has named Dr Ken Harvey as the CHOICE “Consumer Champion of 2012”.
It seems if there is a shonky medical product on sale, Dr Harvey knows about it and works tirelessly to highlight the problem to government authorities and the public at large; and to improve policy and regulation to reduce the harm and financial burden that shonky products impose on consumers.
The award is well deserved. The number of committees, policy groups and organisations on which Dr Harvey serves and is actively involved with is bewildering.
The TGA will be making a final decision on the weight loss product, the SUPPREXXA Hunger Buster kit, after consideration of material provided by the sponsor, Chika Health Pty Ltd, in support of the claims made about the kit.
Assist Weight Loss, Decrease Hunger, Fight Fatigue, Stimulate Fat Burn and Improve Energy
The promoters also say it should be used:
…in conjunction with a healthy, energy controlled diet and exercise program.
To me, this looks like bait and switch advertising. Potential customers are seduced by the weight loss message, however, it may be that the only way weight is lost is by putting in the hard work with the diet and exercise program. Could potential customers simply not buy the kit (thereby saving $50) and Read the rest of this entry »
I think everyone is aware of the problem – magnetic underlays, ear candles, homeopathy and bogus weight loss products, to name but a few examples of modern day snake oil; products that make therapeutic claims but are unsupported by evidence that they work. The government agency responsible for protecting consumers from the greed and self-interest of quack medical products, the Therapeutic Goods Agency (TGA) appears powerless to stop it.
It’s no secret that this site has been heavily involved in Alt Med issues recently – partly due to circumstance, and partly because we’ve taken some initiatives.
A great source of frustration is that statutory regulatory bodies like the Therapeutic Goods Administration can’t (or won’t) provide real consumer protection in ensuring that alternative medical products live up to their claims.
Vic Skeptics have arranged a forum to investigate this issue, on Wednesday evening 16th November at La Notte Restaurant in Carlton, featuring a distinguished panel:
The Pharmacy Guild says its deal to promote Blackmores complementary medicines (CMs) has been withdrawn in view of “media reporting of the endorsement which was ill-informed and inflammatory”. My own view is that the deal itself was ill-informed and inflammatory. It involved an undisclosed payment by Blackmores to enable GuildCare dispensing software to prompt pharmacists entering prescriptions to on-sell Blackmores “Companion” products.
The four Guild-endorsed Blackmores products were a probiotic to be promoted with antibiotics, zinc with blood pressure drugs, coenzyme Q10 with vitamin D3 for statins and magnesium with proton pump inhibitors.
Dr Ken Harvey
The National Prescribing Service (NPS) and others have pointed out that there is no good evidence to support the routine use of these supplements with the prescription drugs targeted.
In addition, this practice would unnecessarily add to the “medication burden” experienced by many patients taking multiple drugs, including compliance difficulties, increased cost and potential drug interactions.
Finally, it presents ethical problems for GuildCare (who were recommending one brand only) and for individual pharmacists (who would benefit financially if they went along with prompts that may not be in their patient’s best interest).
This post is a mixed bag of alternative medicine news featuring the TGA, Dr Ken Harvey, magic bracelets, magic pills and magic spray.
Do you recall our story about the health giving jewellery that could be purchased from Qantas duty free? Dr Ken Harvey put in a complaint to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’s Complaints Resolution Panel (CRP) about the same. The complaint was upheld; the CRP asked for the withdrawal of advertising.
click full size
A company called Alpha Flight Services Pty Ltd handles the sale of duty free items on Qantas flights.
Alpha Flight Services Pty Ltd also stated that, in response to the complaint, they had “acted promptly to withdraw all promotion of the products online” and had stopped selling the products.
In part the decision says:
The Panel was therefore satisfied that the advertisements contained many claims that had not been verified, were likely to arouse unwarranted expectations, and were misleading. These included the claims that the advertised products could improve heath, improve metabolism, improve or encourage blood circulation, expel toxins, reduce stress, improve sleep, lift alkaline levels in the body, neutralise acidic toxins, return the body to a natural state of balance, enhanced the immune system, reduce stress Read the rest of this entry »
The libel case brought by SensaSlim against Dr Ken Harvey is almost over, with SensaSlim eventually backing down. The only remaining issue is one of costs.
Dr Ken Harvey says:
Subsequent to the ACCC freezing SensaSlim’s Australian bank account, their lawyers (Kennedys) have withdrawn from the case; an external administrator / liquidator was appointed to take over the company on 30/06/2011; a revised statement of claim was not submitted by the final date allowed by the court (July 1, 2011) and my lawyers will now apply to have the case finally stuck out (and costs awarded) at the next sitting of the defamation list judge on July 11, 2011.
However, this is likely to be a pyrrhic victory as it is very doubtful if any money from the liquidator will be available to pay the costs awarded!
The case has highlighted some fundamental flaws in Australian regulation concerning complementary medicines and the promotion of therapeutic goods which have been the subject of many submissions to recent government enquires. Hopefully, some reforms will emerge.
In further news, the SensaSlim case has made news in the UK. Dr Capehorn gives his thoughts as to what happened, here.
An update on the Dr Ken Harvey libel case. Plus the removal of photographs from the web page of the institute that is said to have done research supporting the product.
Much has happened regarding the libel case against Dr Ken Harvey since writing the last post on this topic.
On the 14th of June, Dr Ken Harvey’s legal people found there were problems with the original statement of claim put forward by SensaSlim’s legal people. Harvey’s legal people requested the libel action be struck out. However the NSW Supreme court allowed SensaSlim’s legal people to withdraw the statement of claim and lodge an amended one, they have until 1st of July to do so.
On the 16th of June the ACCC began investigating SensaSlim. On the 23rd of June the ACCC applied to the federal court to put a freeze on SensaSlim’s Australian assets, which was granted. Read the rest of this entry »
Simon Singh, the UK based science writer well known to Skeptics everywhere for having successfully defended himself in a libel case involving the British Chiropractic Association, has been in touch with Vic Skeptics.
Simon made the following statement in support ofDr Ken Harvey:
Having been sued for libel in London, I had admired the libel reforms in Australia, which seemed to offer you the free speech that we all deserve. However, I am now astonished and saddened that a respected Australian medical expert has been silenced by a defamation action by SensaSlim. This seems like a disgraceful state of affairs – for speaking out on a matter of public interest, Dr Ken Harvey has been forced to endure the massive personal and financial pressure of a potentially lengthy legal case. In the meantime, the Australian public is not informed about an apparently infective slimming treatment.
28th of June 2011
Pledge Your Support
At present, the personal cost to Dr Ken Harvey for legal expenses is not known. We’re not asking for direct financial assistance at this time. However, you can show your support by making a pledge. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org, with your name, phone number, and how much you are pledging.
Soapbox – A Variety of Speakers on a Variety of Topics
WE’RE NOW RECORDING OUR ZOOM-BASED SKEPTICS CAFÉS; Details on the EVENTS page
Donate to Vic Skeptics
Vic Skeptics is run by volunteers. We welcome your donation. (Calculated in Australian dollars) Thanks.
Search Vic Skeptics
Every third Monday of the month the Victorian Branch of the Australian Skeptics hosts a talk or event:
Skeptics Café recommenced in April 2020 via Zoom. Next: Monday April 19 2021: See Events page for details.
Include Vic Skeptics in Your Will
The Australian Skeptics (Victorian Branch) Inc. [Vic Skeptics]. promotes critical thinking, scientific literacy and encourages a rational, sceptical approach to the paranormal and pseudoscience.
We are a volunteer non-profit organization and have limited financial resources.
We need money to achieve our aims and bequests help enormously.