The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted Federal Court proceedings over allegedly misleading claims on a homoeopathy website regarding the effectiveness of the whooping cough (pertussis) vaccine.
The ACCC has taken proceeding against Homeopathy Plus! Australia Pty Ltd and against the owners of the Homeopathy Plus! website.
The claims on the Homeopathy Plus! website include statements that the whooping cough vaccine is “unreliable” and “largely ineffective” in preventing whooping cough and that homeopathic remedies are a safe and effective alternative for the prevention and treatment of whooping cough.
The ACCC alleges that these claims are misleading and deceptive, in breach of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010.
The ACCC is seeking an injunction to have the claims removed, as well as penalties against the company and individuals.
Whooping cough is a highly infectious respiratory disease which is most serious in young children. The Australian Government Department of Health and Ageing recommends children receive the whooping cough vaccine as part of routine childhood immunisation.
Ms Sheffield won the 2012 Australian Skeptics’ Bent Spoon award which is “presented to the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudoscientific piffle”.
From: Ken Harvey [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: Thursday, 22 March 2012 11:10 AM
To: ‘Bezzi, Marcus’
Cc: ‘King, Catherine (Private)’
Subject: Re: Call for ACCC to stop misleading promotion of homeopathic immunisation.
Attention: Marcus Bezzi
Executive General Manager | Enforcement & Compliance
Australian Competition & Consumer Commission
GPO Box 3131
Canberra ACT 2601
You will recall our panel discussion in Sydney late last year (organised by the Australian Skeptics) on regulating medical claims and my frustration with the impotence of the Complaint Resolution Panel (CRP) and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
The current regulatory system for therapeutic goods encourages unscrupulous &/or ill-advised sponsors to flood the consumer market with shonky products, some of which are exceptionally dangerous to the public health.
I have attached a complaint about such a sponsor who promotes homeopathic immunisation; this time for the prevention and treatment of whooping cough.
There have been a number of previous upheld complaints to the CRP about the promotion of Homeopathy Plus: 2011-05-004 2010-04-009, 2010-04-008 and 2009-09-013; including recommendations to the Secretary for failure to comply with CRP “requests” to publish retractions.
These have been ignored (as many sponsors do), see: http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/content/2010/s2867990.htm and
The continued promotion of homeopathic immunization highlights the inadequacies of current therapeutic goods regulation concerning both homeopathic products and the advertising of therapeutic goods.
It shows that the CRP and the TGA are currently incapable of protecting the public health, see http://www.anao.gov.au/Publications/Audit-Reports/2011-2012/Therapeutic-Goods-Regulation-Complementary-Medicines/Audit-brochure.
I therefor ask the ACCC to use its powers under Schedule 2, Chapter 2, Part 2-1 (misleading, deceptive and unconscionable conduct) of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 to force Homeopathy Plus to remove the material complained about from their web site and replace it with a large and suitably worded retraction.
A formal complaint is attached.
Dr Ken Harvey
Adjunct Associate Professor
School of Public Health, La Trobe University http://medreach.com.au VOIP
(03) 90293697 | Mobile +614 1918 1910 | Fax: +613 9818 1875