Complementary medicines: Exporting ‘White Australia Policy’

Found in Sri Lankan Pharmacy

Prof Weerasuriya ( University of Colombo) has complained that ‘Australian made’ skin whitening products are being sold in Sri Lankan supermarkets (and presumably other Asian counties).

Skin-whitening products are a multi-billion-dollar industry that push a racist idea that beauty equates with white skin and that lightening dark skin is achievable and preferable. This concept fuels intolerance of dark-skinned people, causes serious social harm and wastes consumer’s money.

The ‘Facia Premium Skin Lightening Formula’ is being illegally exported by an Australian company (Zifam Pinnacle) and as a skin whitening product. That is not a permitted or specific indication on the TGA’s ARTG product public summary (295927). This promotion brings Australia’s reputation into disrepute. It’s also an indictment of uncritical Australian export awards (below).

A complaint has been submitted to the TGA and to the Hon Karen Andrews MP, Minister for Industry, Science and Technology.

Regrettably, the Minister, and her Department of Industry, Science and Technology, has a track record of prioritising industry profitability over consumer and social justice concerns, see: Made in Australia?

Prof Weerasuriya from Sri Lanka comments:

  1. There are many skin whitening products on the market, including from giant multinationals such as Unillevers. They occupy significant shelf space in supermarkets.
  2. There is no scientific evidence that any of them work  as promoted.
  3. As Medicines Regulator I can see the clear discrepancy. The manufacturer obtains an Australian licence number for the product (which does NOT have skin whitening as an approved indication). The manufacturer then adds “skin whitening” claim as on the outer packaging when exporting – that is a violation of the Australian licence number regulations.
  4. The National Medicines Regulatory Authority in Sri Lanka is also lax – information is available on the Internet and the discrepancy can be pointed out but the product is registered and allowed into the country.
  5. The importer then sells the product with all the “Australian Prestige” misleading the consumer.
  6. Action needs to be taken on multiple points in the supply chain – publicity in the Australian media would help in cutting off the product at its source.
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About Dr Ken Harvey

Public Health Physician, Medical activitist
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