Seminar: The Advertising of Therapeutic Goods and Services (and its regulation), Sept 8, 2017

In March 2016, a seminar on this topic attracted over 100 people to the Sydney University Health Law Centre. One outcome was a decision to hold a follow-up seminar in Melbourne in Sept-Oct 2017.

The 2017 seminar is being organised by the Monash Health Law and Society Group and the Monash School of Public Health and Preventative Medicine in association with Melbourne University Law School, Choice (the Australian Consumers’ Association), Friends of Science in Medicine (FSM) and the Foundation for Effective Markets and Governance (FEMAG).

Date: Sept 8, 2017

Venue: Monash Law Chambers, 555 Lonsdale St, Melbourne, 3000

There have been significant developments since last year’s seminar. These include the:

Also, several relevant consultations by the Medical and Medical Devices Review including,

The program will include:

  • A case study involving multiple-regulators: the AMI-MWI-AMHC saga
  • Update on Medicines and Medical Devices Review implementation: complementary medicine regulation, therapeutic goods advertising, enhancing penalties and sanctions
  • Update on Chiropractor case study presented at the 2016 seminar
  • Problems with the regulation of stem cell therapy and its promotion.


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HAIAP-PHM ISC Meeting, Bangladesh, 15-16 May 2017

Members of the HAIAP-PHM International Steering Committee (ISC) met at Gonoshasthaya PHA, Savar, Bangladesh during May 15-16, 2017 to discuss the planning and agenda of the proposed November meeting.

Not all members of the ISC could attend due to problems in obtaining funding and visas. Those who attended were self-funded. Regrettably, due to Internet problems, other members of the ISC could not be linked in via Skype. Those present (from left to right in the above photo) were:

Dr. Mira Shiva, India (All India Drug Action Network); Dr. Manzur Kadir, Gonoshasthaya Kendra (GK); Dr. Edelina P. Dela Paz (Delen), Health Action Information Network, Philippines (People’s Health Movement representative for PHM Global Steering Council); Dr. Ken Harvey, School of Public Health, Monash University, Australia; Dr. Laila Parveen, Gono Bishwabidyalay; Dr. Qasem Chowdhury, GK; Dr. Zafrullah Chowdhury, GK; Shila Kaur, Health Action International Asia Pacific (HAIAP) Coordinator, Third World Network, Penang, Malaysia.

In addition: Md. Fazle Karim, Management Sciences for Health (MSH) and Dr. Ishak Ali, GK attended.

It was decided that holding a major meeting on the theme of “Revive Health for All” in November 10-14, 2017 was too ambitious and this meeting should be postponed for later in 2018.

People were having difficulty obtaining funds for air-travel, PHM had no resources to commit, donor funding did not look promising and several people had committed to attend a Nutrition Conference with dates close by.

It was accepted that the proposed “Revive Health for All” conference, and the issues outlined, were still of great relevance but more time was required to finalise the planning and explore options for funding.

Instead, it was agreed that a HAIAP meeting would be take place at GK from November 10-12, 2017 concentrating on one of the issues previously identified: Ensuring Access to Affordable, Safe Quality Essential Medicines and their Rational Use.

There would be a focus on antibiotic resistance, the failure of a profit-orientated pharmaceutical system to meet the challenge of providing new antibiotics, the role of antibiotic guidelines and other educational initiatives, meeting the challenge of pharmaceutical promotion and a multi-country study on drug pricing. Relevant country stories would be solicited and presented (action-orientated initiatives that have made a difference).

The aim is to stimulate HAIAP members to further action, nurture younger health activists by promoting intergenerational exchange and identify underlying problems for placing on the agenda of a 2018 meeting.

Regrettably, HAIAP is unable to provide financial assistance for travel to Bangladesh. However, GK has committed to providing full hospitality for this meeting including airport pickup and drop, modest accommodation, all meals and AV facilities.

A full report of the ISC meeting is available here.


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TGA Consultation Submissions


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Vitamin company Swisse calls for self-regulation of complementary medicine advertising

Well they would say that wouldn’t they!

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NSW HCCC Public Warning: Medical Weight Loss Institute (MWI)

Public warning under section 94A of the Health Care Complaints Act 1993Non-evidence Based Weight Loss Programs

See also:

At last! But it took 8 months to get this warning from the NSW HCCC about a now liquidated company.

Meanwhile, what is AHPRA &/or the NSW Medical Council doing about the doctors and the compounding pharmacy involved? For example, Dr Thomas Goyer who used to be weightloss expert at MWI now calls himself a facial rejuvenation expert. Dr Jackie Forrester continues to accept referrals of MWI patients from Australian Custom Pharmaceuticals (the compounding pharmacy).

In addition, new companies have been created by the same people (Geoff Jowett et al.).















As I have said before, the modus operandi of AMI, MWI, AMHC, etc., is the same; target vulnerable consumers (erectile dysfunction, overweight, obese, diminished libido), suggest a similar program (spurious laboratory tests (at taxpayers’ expense) to give a veneer of respectability and justify “individualised” treatment), make extravagant (and unsubstantiated) claims, and sign people up, extracting a large amount of money up-front.

The result is that consumers continue to be ripped off and have their health put at risk from inappropriate investigations and prescribing.

What are the regulators doing? Is this consumer protection?


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MWI now in liquidation; but referrals continue


However, Australian Custom Pharmaceuticals (Acpharm), who supplied the compounded medicines used by MWI, appear to be encouraging patients of MWI to continue to see doctors who were involved with MWI. See below:

From: Matt Chalmers <>
Sent: ######## February 2017 ####
To: ########################
Subject: Program with Dr Forrester

Hello #######,

Thanks for your email and your indication to continue a program with Dr Forrester.

I will forward your details on to her to make a time for a quick consult to get the process rolling again.

We are delighted to continue to utilise the good parts of the MWI program, and replace some of the not-so-good parts.

You will find this time around to be a little kinder to your wallet as you will now be dealing directly with the doctor and the pharmacy.

As you can imagine, the liquidation of MWI has left a bit of a messy state for many people and I thank you in advance for understanding any delays at this time.

We will be in touch with you soon.


Matt Chalmers
Australian Custom Pharmaceuticals

For background see:

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ABC Media Watch – NINE ACA “ADHD breakthrough” – that doesn’t work!

Also, something fishy in the oil on ABC Health Report with Norman Swan RN, Monday 27th February


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2016 Monash University SPHPM Summer Vacation Scholarship Program Award

The School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine (SPHPM) Summer Vacation Scholarship Program supports the education of promising tertiary students by providing a means to engage and gain experience in research during the University summer vacation period.

The program is open to students completing degrees in Bachelor of Health Science, Bachelor of Public Health Science, Bachelor of Biomedical Science, or Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery. Students work with a senior researcher and their team to undertake a small research project, or contribute to current research in applied clinical and public health.

Since 2011, SPHPM has provided scholarships to approximately 20 students each year to participate in the 4-6 week program. The aim is to give students insight into opportunities in the growing area of public health research and an incentive to pursue higher studies and a career in research or academia.


In 2016, two Monash Biomedical Science/Law Summer Scholarship students (Sasha Hall and Tiana Moutafis) worked with me on our “Whack-a-mole” project.This involved submitting complaints about the promotion of complementary medicines to the regulators, media engagement and a submission to the TGA on regulatory reform.

Each student made a video about their work:


Which one do you think won the award for best presentation?

Additional students involved in the Whack-a-mole” project earlier in the year (along with Sasha and Tiana) also featured in a recent ABC Four Corners program: “Swallowing It: How Australians are spending billions on unproven vitamins and supplements“.

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Complementary medicine vending machines (with coke)… has it all gone too far?

“Vitamin Warehouse is now installing the world’s first refrigerated vitamins and health supplements vending machines with 42inc digitalised android touch screen computers allowing customers direct chat one on one with any of the brands sold in our machines. As well as chat to any of the 4000+ Australian Naturalcare professionals.” From:

See also:

The vending machines sell vitamins, medicines, perfumes and even 99c cans of soft drink.  These screens allow “the purchase of over 1,000 products of Swisse, Blackmores, Nature’s Own, Healthy Care, Centrum, Herron, Cenovis and every other brand not previously possible in any current pharmacy health food store or supermarket retail outlet.”

This highlights a key question that is currently being debated in AJP and was also the subject of a recent ABC 4-Corners program. Are complementary medicines (vitamins, herbals, etc.) normal items of commerce that can be sold anywhere without the availability of professional advice (as they currently are in supermarkets)?

Alternatively, given that these products are currently classified as “medicines” by the TGA, and they can have problems such as side-effects (e.g. allergy, Echinacea) and drug interactions (St John’s wort), should they only be sold where advice from a health professional is available?

Also, will advice from a naturopath in a health food store, or from the 4000+ Australian Naturalcare professionals allegedly available from the android touch screen of the vending machines, be better or worse than that obtained from a pharmacy: see  Also:

This would make another interesting project for Choice mystery shoppers!

Finally, one of the recommendations of the MMD Review (no 48) accepted by the government was undertaking a review of the range of complementary medicinal products, currently listed in the ARTG and subject to regulation under the medicines framework, with a view to ensuring that products that might best be regulated under other regulatory frameworks, without undermining public health and safety, are removed from the auspices of the Act.  Vitamins and minerals have been suggested as one such category of product. But I can’t see how this would not undermine public health and consumer protection.


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ABC 4-Corners Swallowing It: How Australians are spending billions on unproven vitamins and supplements.

FEATURE: What’s the evidence supporting the use of Australia’s favourite supplements? | ABC Health & Science | 13 Feb 2017 –

STUDY Is your pharmacist giving you the right advice? We put pharmacists to the test – what do they recommend for stress and does it work? | CHOICE | Feb 2017 –

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