ABC Australia+ removes Monash & Swisse logos from its own; But look at what they have done to Melbourne, Victoria and Canberra Uni!

ABC Australia+, Swisse, Melb Uni

ABC Australia+ Victoria Canberra Uni

But then, “Swisse Ultivite is a premium quality formula, containing 53 vitamins, minerals, antioxidants that has been formulated based on scientific evidence to provide nutritional support for a busy, stressful lifestyle”!

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ABC Australia+ removes Monash & Swisse logos from its own

In response to letters expressing concern about the perceived relationship between the ABC, Swisse and Monash, the Monash VC (Margaret Gardner) has  stated,

“The Monash partnership is a stand-alone partnership with ABC International and is in no way a partnership with Swisse or the Victorian Government.  Some stakeholders were initially concerned this was not the case, given that the Monash University logo appeared on the ABC International website alongside the logos of their other partners the Victorian Government and Swisse.  Following the initial announcement of partnerships, ABC International has made iterative changes to its website, including how it has acknowledged and presented its partner organisations”.

The changes made can be seen below. First of all, the Monash, Swisse and Victorian government logos have been removed from the logo of ABC Australia +, see below:

ABC Australia+ new logo

Second, placed above (and separate) there are now rotating images of the “partners”, see below:New ABC Monash logo

ABC Swisse

ABC Vic Gov

A considerable improvement!

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Australian Health expert unhappy with ABC’s Swisse deal


This “partnership” continues to attract media interest:

On 24 August 2016, the Vice Chancellor of Monash University, Margaret Gardner, wrote:

“There is no partnership between Monash and Swisse.  Monash has a partnership with ABC International, which was put in place last year.  This partnership is to provide communications across the region about Monash research, education, staff, students and alumni. …”

This begs the question as to why the Monash logo appears with Swisse on the ABC International promotion (above) and why these words were not used in the various press releases and media stories publicising the deal. The fact remains that Monash is damned by association. Why did they not insist on due diligence regarding what additional sponsors ABC International was going to line up?

Meanwhile, Swisse responds with a full page advertisement in “The Age” newspaper.


My comment: Victorian taxes at work; exporting unnecessary supplements to countries that need genuine medicines and public health interventions (and profits to China).

On August 25, 2016 Croaky was told by Monash Management,

“To suggest that because ABC International’s other partner logos appear on their website there is an inter-relationship between them, is false and misleading”.

However, I suggest that the average consumer, on viewing the adjacent logos, would come to a different conclusion. I believe the message in the above image is clear; on the one hand it’s worth a fortune to Swisse to have their brand linked in this way; on the other the reputation of Monash University (and the ABC and the Victorian Government) is now irreversibly linked to Swisse.

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ABC International, Monash University, the Victorian State Government and Swisse Wellness announce partnership

ABC Australia Plus announces international partnerships


I have been told that the partnership between ABC International and Monash and was struck late last year, before any involvement of Swisse Wellness Pty Ltd.

Regardless, I am disappointed that Swisse has been added to the mix. Swisse have an unenviable reputation for marketing their products, both in Australia and internationally. Their sales success reflect the large amount of money they spend on marketing hype and the use of celebrities, not on science.  Indeed, Swisse have had many upheld complaints for misusing scientific claims such as “clinically proven” and “clinically tested”. Their advertising claims have also been the subject of a number of satirical segments on the ABC Checkout program.

In 2013-4 Swisse sought a research partnership with a number of Australian universities; all but one resisted on the grounds that, while such an association might give Swisse a fig-leaf of respectability, it would not reflect well on the reputation of the university involved.

Finally, I point out that my appointment as an Adjunct Associate Professor at Monash University is unpaid, my substantial involvement with students and staff is done Pro Bono and my views regarding Swisse and their partnership with ABC International are obviously my own and do not reflect the views of Monash University.

See also, “Public health expert raises concerns about ABC partnership with supplements brand Swisse Wellness“.

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Bizarre advertising approval by TGA

Mastitis relief

The TGA can only grant advertising approval for a restricted representation if the representation is accurate, balanced, not misleading and in the public interest. The TGA has now approved restricted representations for two probiotic products:

  • Puremedic Pty Ltd (9 June 2016); Qiara Pregnancy & Breastfeeding (ARTG L. 269433);
  • Nutricia Australia Pty Ltd (11 December 2014); Profutura Pregnancy and Breast Feeding Multi + Probiotic’ (AUST L 227779) and Profutura Mastitis Relief (AUST L 228818)

The representations allowed are:

  • “Mastitis relief during breastfeeding”,
  • “May help to relieve or reduce breast pain and discomfort associated with mastitis”,
  • “May reduce the recurrence of mastitis. Use at the first signs of mastitis”

As Amir et al., note in their article, “Probiotics and mastitis: evidence-based marketing?“, one unreplicated trial in the public domain containing numerous methodological problems is hardly sufficient evidence to allow claims that probiotics, “Help relieve or reduce breast pain or discomfort associated with mastitis during breast feeding”. Nor is there good evidence that probiotics, “Reduce the recurrence of mastitis”. While much of the Profutura promotion has been directed at health professionals, some is readily available to consumers via the Internet, albeit containing a disclaimer, “For health professionals only”. See also,

It has been suggested that the TGA may have been given access to unpublished studies that supported their decision. Medicines Australia Code of Conduct (for promoting prescription products) clearly states that advertising claims made on the basis of unpublished studies are unacceptable.  The TGA should follow the same ethical principles.

In an even more bizarre example of decision making, the TGA approved a restricted representation for a homeopathic medicine to advertise “restless legs relief”. This despite the NHMRC concluding that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective! Restless legs reliefI understand that the TGA is not obliged to consult with the other expert groups about such decisions. However, I believe the TGA would have been saved considerable embarrassment had they done so. One of the functions of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code Council (TGACC) is to make recommendations to the Minister about submissions for restricted representations (if asked). The TGACC is comprised of a number of stakeholders, including consumer groups, and is more likely to provide a balanced judgement, taking into account the public interest, than an isolated TGA officer.

These cases provide a salutary example of the problems likely to arise if the TGA takes over all advertising approval and complaint functions, as has been proposed.

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code Council (TGACC) representing the Australian Consumers’ Association.

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Australian Male Hormone Clinic (AMHC)

AMI begat MWI begat AMHC…. These guys are incorrigible….

TestosteroneNow, following the Advanced Medical Institute (AMI) and the Medical Weightloss Institute (MWI) we have the Australian Male Hormone Clinic (AMHC)!

What are the regulators doing? Are they merely paper tigers?

Consumer protection requires that the people spruiking MWI and AHMC be stopped immediately.

The victims of these scams are not just being ripped off financially but are also likely to also have direct and indirect detriment to their health. Direct health detriment can come from the adverse effects and drug interactions of the “hundreds of different medications” they tailor-make for an individual. Indirect health detriment can result from failure to diagnose underlying conditions and a delay in seeking more evidence-based treatment.

An appropriate regulatory tool would be to apply for an injunction (a court order) to take down the offending websites and Facebook material and place a full page retraction of claims in “The Age Green Guide”. Retractions are important as they correct egregious misinformation that has previously been promulgated.

Penalties should then follow. AHPRA and the Medical Council of NSW should deregister Dr Goyer and the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission should make a public warning about Jowett (an unregistered health practitioner) and permanently prohibit him from providing weight loss services.

See (June 24, 2016) “Yet another weight loss scam (Dr Thomas Goyer)

Then (on July 28, 2016), there was another full page advertisement in “The Age Green Guide” titled, “Medical Team Discovers How To Optimise Hormones For Weight Loss“.


And Dr Goyer is still being spruiked by Geoff Jowett in a number of MWI Facebook videos. For example, Dr Tom Goyer & MWI:

“Dr Tom Goyer knows more about medical weight loss treatments than any other medical doctor that I’ve met, That’s why I teamed up with him. I’m friends with a lot of medical doctors luckily enough but no one knows as much as Dr Tom when it comes to weight loss; medical weight loss. So my only concern with talking to your GP is that they don’t know what we know. They don’t know the medical treatments, they don’t have the tailor made plans that we have and they don’t have access to all of the different protocols that we have so that they may not know what it is that we are prescribing or suggesting or doing. So it is a little bit fraught with danger.So I encourage you to trust me a little bit; I’ve been doing it for 20 years. I guess if I didn’t know what I was doing I wouldn’t still be in the weight loss industry…”

And now we have the Australian Male Hormone Clinic (AMHC) also spruiked by Geoff Jowett



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AHPRA-CBA Stakeholder Forum July 28, 2016

This forum was organised by the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency (AHPRA) and the Chiropractic Board of Australia (CBA) in response to longstanding concerns (and recent publicity) about the promotion and practice of many chiropractors that lacks an adequete evidence base.

It follows a Sydney University Health-Law Seminar on the promotion of therapeutic goods and services held earlier this year.

The following material was prepared for the AHPRA-CBA Stakeholder Forum:

A report on the Forum is currently being prepared.

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Access to Medicines: New resources

There is a new book and website that illustrate the impact of intellectual property (IP) on access to medicines, launched today by Health Action International in collaboration with public health advocate and HAI member, Ellen ’t Hoen.

In her book, “Private Patents and Public Health: Changing intellectual property rules for access to medicinesEllen chronicles parallel developments in global health and international patent laws. She warns that trends in international IP law are hindering many of the policy tools that were successfully used to scale up antiretroviral treatment during the HIV/AIDS crisis of the late 1990s. To avoid a similar access to medicines crisis, she offers numerous solutions to restore balance in the current biomedical R&D system.

The new website, meanwhile, incorporates simplified content from the book, along with infographics that can be easily shared via Twitter and Facebook. The main purpose of the site is to provide those who are new to the access to medicines field with a basic level of knowledge about the relationship between IP and access to medicines; however, experienced advocates, policy-makers, consumers and journalists may also find it useful given that it provides more in-depth analyses into key IP issues, as well as infographics and links to resources that are relevant to their work.

We invite you to share the website’s information and infographics widely on social media—for advocates to incorporate the materials into your own campaigns, for policy-makers to use it as a vital source of information to inform your policy decisions, and for consumers and journalists to become more aware of the impact of IP on access to medicines.

Ellen’s book is available, free of charge, on the new website.

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De-registered chiropractor in hyperbaric death probe

Mr Hooper’s chiropractic registration was cancelled in 2013 when the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal found him guilty of six counts of misconduct.

The tribunal ruled that as well as charging Mr Tekin almost $45,000 for more than 200 hours of unproven oxygen therapies for his cerebral palsy, Mr Hooper had made unfounded claims about his ability to treat more than 30 conditions.

Because Mr Hooper is no longer registered as a chiropractor, he no longer has to answer to the Chiropractic Board of Australia.

And because his treatments are not regarded as mainstream medicine, they do not fall under the authority of any medical board.

The situation has left the State Government asking the ACCC to investigate whether Hypermed has engaged in misleading business practices.

The Herald Sun understands that the government is also examining whether it can introduce laws which may outlaw Mr Hooper’s treatments as well as a range of other unproven and suspect therapies.

The legislation will create a new Health Complaints Commission with the power to crack down on dangerous or unethical unregistered health practitioners.

But the Bill is not scheduled to be passed by state parliament until February next year.

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency spokeswoman Ainta Rivera said the measures would offer patients greater protection from unregistered practitioners.

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Yet another weight loss scam (Dr Thomas Goyer)

On June 23, 2016 “The Age Green Guide” contained a full page advertisement titled, “Medical Team Discovers How To Reset Hormones For Weight Loss“.

The advertisement featured Dr Thomas Clement Goyer, Geoff Jowett and the Medical Weightloss Institute. Claims included:

“Thanks to the team at GTC Medical and the Medical Weightloss Institute (MWI) Australians can now lose weight without strenuous exercise and counting calories – thanks to a treatment that resets the hormones to burn fat for fuel”.

“I had been overweight my entire life and tried everything. Nothing worked. Then I had a consult with Dr Tom and it changed everything. I’ve lost 42kg now and I honestly feel amazing. I had more energy from day 1 on the program. I tell everyone who will listen; they have to try the Medical Weightloss Institute” says Nazih Hamze from Sydney (32 years old)”.

Similar claims are found at:

I have submitted a complaint to both AHPRA and the ACCC alleging that this promotion, involving both Dr Goyer and the Medical Weightloss Institute, is misleading, deceptive and exploitative, lacks an evidence base and preys on a vulnerable population, the overweight and obese.

I believe it requires AHPRA to prosecute Dr Goyer in the Magistrates Court (Part 7 of National Law) and/or discipline him by referral to a tribunal (Part 8 of National Law). I also suggest that ACCC should obtain an immediate Court injunction against Medical Weightloss Institute to remove the web site content and (by use of an enforceable undertaking) replace it with a large, suitably worded retraction. A similar full page retraction should also be published in the next edition of “The Age Green Guide” and any other placement of this advertisement

Meanwhile, I note the following report about Dr Thomas Goyer.

“Among the AMI doctors who gave evidence was Dr Thomas Goyer. He told the court that the AMI job was not particularly demanding for a doctor “because no one dies of erectile dysfunction” and it was not as “terrible” as it would be to practise as a GP. Although he said the work was repetitious, Dr Goyer was paid $1000 a day. “Dr Goyer did not present as a doctor who was committed to patient care,” the judge wrote, describing the manner in which Dr Goyer presented his evidence as “arrogant, obstructive and unco-operative”.

See also: ‘Medical Weightloss Institute’ under fire for dubious claims

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