Your editorial (2/9) says the government should have a more rigorous process to protect consumers from ineffective treatments and products. There are government regulators that are meant to do this job but they are weak and ineffective.
The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Authority refuses to state that certain practices should not be performed because they lack evidence, waste scarce health resources and are potentially harmful. These include surgeons performing arthroscopy for osteoarthritis and chiropractors manipulating the newborn to correct “birth trauma”. AHPRA refuses to lay down standards of practice because this might limit innovation.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has recently taken over all complaints about advertising medicines and medical devices to the public. It closes complaints about ineffective products by sending an “educational” letter to the offender without checking to see if this has any effect; usually it does not. It also fails to publicly disclose the company or product that had an upheld complaint. The TGA appears more concerned with industry assistance than consumer protection. I suggest The Age puts its investigative spotlight on the regulators of therapeutic goods and services.
Associate Professor Ken Harvey, Monash University