Letter in ‘The Australian’ 16/02/2018 – A triple cash burner

The revision of surgical procedures deemed “unnecessary, wasteful and risky” (“Health waste: spinal fusion added to list”, 14/2) is good news for the troubled health budget, but you must ask why this approach is so lamentably piecemeal, especially at the hands of those entrusted with protecting the health of Australians.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration, the chief body that vets medicines and medical devices for the nation, has just approved a vast array of patently absurd so-called alternative treatments — under the poor excuse of their being “traditional medicines” — that can be freely advertised and offered with no evidence at all required to show they are effective and plenty to show they are not.

The TGA is allowing a variety of “medicines”, for each of which is a nonsensical claim, such as it “softens hardness”, “tonifies kidney essence”, can “open body orifices”, “replenish the gate of vitality”, “moistens dryness in the triple burner” and more. Yet, many consumers are forgoing evidenced-based prescription medicines because they have wasted their money on this heavily promoted rubbish and can no longer afford PBS co-payments.

It’s no wonder that the nation’s health bill is billions of dollars and growing apace without a comparable improvement in health outcomes. Given TGA regulatory craziness, the odd spinal fusion or two hardly rates a mention.

Professors John Dwyer, Hubertus Jersmann, Marcel Costa, Associate Professor Ken Harvey, Friends of Science in Medicine, Adelaide, SA

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About Dr Ken Harvey

Public Health Physician, Medical activitist
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