Complementary Medicines, Advertising Reform and the TGA

21 November, 2018

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:

  • totally predictable
  • disappointing

 

(left to right: Mal Vickers, Kithmini Cooray, Mary Malek, Ken Harvey)

Speakers:

Discussion:

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 TGA Complaints (lack of) process

6 September, 2018

Here are reposts from two recent pieces by Dr Ken Harvey: Both examine Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Authority (TGA).

The first is a letter written to Melbourne’s Age newspaper.

The second, published on Dr Harvey’s own website is about Detox Foot Pads and more than adequately demonstrates the contention, made in the first piece, that the TGA is not really interested in consumer protection.

– – – – – – 

Letter to The Age 5/9/18 Spotlight on regulators

Your editorial (4/9) says the government should have a more rigorous process to protect consumers from ineffective treatments and products. There are government regulators that are meant to do this job but they are weak and ineffective. Read the rest of this entry »


The Whack – a – Mole Project and the TGA.

8 November, 2017

by Ken Greatorex

 

Whack-a-Mole?

Whack-a-Mole was a popular 1970s arcade game which consisted of repeatedly hitting cartoon moles on the head with a cartoon hammer. Moles nevertheless kept cropping up with undiminished energy more or less at random; so the term Whack-a-mole came to signify “a repetitious and futile task.

Problems with Regulation of Therapeutic Goods

The situation regarding the regulation of therapeutic goods in Australia is unsatisfactory. The complaints process is frustrating, exhausting and often ineffectual. Complaints to the Therapeutics Goods Administration (TGA) must be made against one product or service at a time. Because such complaints are almost invariably made by volunteers, and there is no financial incentive to complain, only a relatively tiny number of questionable products ever get put under the microscope.

An astonishing 87 % of such complaints have historically been upheld. Yet the offending companies rarely receive more than “a slap on the wrists”.

Read the rest of this entry »


Happenings Feb 2013

17 February, 2013

by

Mal Vickers

Pharmai love data

I love data and so does ‘Sense About Science’, the UK based pro-science trust. Sense About Science has launched the All Trials Campaign. The campaign aims to have pharmaceutical companies release the data from all the clinical trials they conduct.

Without the release of all data, pharmaceutical companies are free to indulge in selective publishing. That is, they may only publish the clinical trials that show the most favourable results for the products they would like us to consume.

The campaign coincides with the release of Dr Ben Goldacre’s new book ‘Bad Pharma’.

Countering Antivax Anecdotes with Provax Anecdotes

The New Zealand parents of a child that contracted tetanus change their mind about the benefits of vaccination.

“Mrs Williams said they made what they thought was an informed decision not to vaccinate any of their children because of concerns over adverse reactions, but had since changed their minds.”

Mrs Williams is quoted as saying:

“It was hideous. He was spasming every three minutes. He was biting his tongue and bleeding. His arms were spasming and he was arching his back and his whole face and jaw was completely locked.”

A family in the UK came to exactly the same conclusion – that vaccination isn’t so bad, the benefits of avoiding the disease far outweigh the small risks. They were struck Read the rest of this entry »


Happenings – June 2012

15 June, 2012

by Ken Greatorex


Nuns Fight Back! In last month’s Happenings, we reported on an attempt by The Vatican to rein in America’s fifty thousand nuns. Here’s the latest. Meanwhile, Australia’s last openly pro­gressive Catholic bishop, Can­berra’s Pat Power resigned, citing the Vatican’s inability to listen, clergy sex abuse and the short­age of priests as the biggest issues facing the church.

In Australia, a supreme court judge has forced Jehova’s Witness parents to allow their four-year-old daughter to receive a blood transfusion, without which she had a life expectancy of a few weeks. Read the rest of this entry »


Happenings

18 May, 2012

by Ken Greatorex

This is a collection of odds, ends and newsy bits that have taken our attention in the last month.

  • The Global Atheist Convention in Melbourne was as big an event as predicted. There was even an appearance by both militant Christians and Muslims. HERE. For Dick Gross’s review, see HERE

    Eugenie Scott

    The GAC was big enough to have its own fringe, in fact. Our own April Skeptics Café was billed as just such an event, featuring  the delightful Eugenie Scott. It may not have represented an enormous crowd for Ms Scott – she is much in demand internationally as a speaker – but it set a record for La Notte’s Club Room. Read the rest of this entry »


TGA, Dr Ken Harvey and SensaSlim News

6 March, 2012

by Mal Vickers

 OK I admit I’ve been somewhat critical of the TGA in the past. However, in the spirit of fairness, when they do something right, I think I should say – hurrah!

As of the 29th of February, the TGA website announced:

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.

(Insert sound of clapping)

The promoter’s claims under scrutiny are that the product will:

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 »