Complementary medicines weight loss complaints submitted to the TGA in 2018-2019. Follow-up in February 2021.

From July 2018 to July 2019, complaints about a convenience sample of twenty-tw0 complementary medicine weight loss products, by eight sponsors, advertised on 140 different Internet sites (cases) were submitted to the TGA. FatBlaster products sponsored by Cat Media (Naturopathica) were highlighted.

The complaints and their TGA reference numbers follow:

These complaints were followed up in July 2020 by Monash Work Integrated Learning (WIL) students. They were reviewed again in February 2021. A detailed Excel file of the findings can be downloaded here; also, a PDF of the images of all products complained about in 2018-19, still advertised in 2021. An example follows:

A paper is being prepared for consideration of publication.

Update 17/03/2021. A TGA infringement notice was issued to My Community Pharmacy (Junction Rx) for illegal advertising of Naturopathica FatBlaster Apple Cider Vinegar & Garcinia Max. This product no longer appears to be advertised.

Update 24/03/ 2012. CW IP Pty Ltd fined $53,280 for alleged advertising breaches (of unlisted products) on the Chemist Warehouse and My Chemist websites; also, Epharmacy Group Pty Ltd fined $26,640 for alleged unlawful advertising (of unlisted products) on the ePharmacy website.

See also: TGA fines Chemist Warehouse | AJP

However, the following products that also lack a current ARTG listing are still being promoted at the time of writing.

Meanwhile, ‘FatBlaster Clinical’ (currently still being sold) was replaced by ‘FatBlaster Platinum + Thermoburn’ and ‘FatBlaster Platinum Metabolism’. The cancelled ‘FatBlaster FatMagnet also has a new listing: ‘FatBlaster FatMagnet Max’ with a new ingredient (Opuntia ficus-indica) that also doesn’t work.

New FatBlaster products

TGA action (albeit limited) appears to have eliminated the imagery of slim people on eleven weight loss products; however, ten remained unchanged.

There has also been a move by sponsors to use ‘traditional’ rather than ‘scientific’ evidence and to reformulate weight loss complementary medicines as food shakes to take advantage of the food-medicine regulatory divide.

New FatBlaster formulations: Traditional use and Food shakes

Yet another complaint was submitted to the TGA about these ongoing matters (AC-OD3FYZZ4/2021, 19 Feb 2021); followed-up on 24 Feb 2021, by AQ-JY6VZ5LA/2021 as no response had been received.

On 22 March 2021 I received the following from Advertising.Enquiries@tga.gov.au:

‘ At the time of submitting your report of suspected advertising non-compliance on 19 February 2021, you were provided with a receipt number (AC-OD3FYZZ4/2021). This is your reference for this matter. You will no longer receive an email to acknowledge the report that has been submitted.

Our new advertising compliance framework describes the TGA’s intelligence led, risk-based approach in responding to reports of non-compliance. Compliance activities under the new framework are focussed on three key priority areas. For more information, please visit our approach to managing advertising compliance.

Additional information:

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About Dr Ken Harvey

Public Health Physician, Medical activitist
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