The ‘outcome’ of two student complaints shows the limitations of the TGA’s advertising framework.
Outcome of student complaints: Case 1
On 11 December 2018, I submitted a compliant about Evolution Supplements, The King Kong Stack, TGA reference number AC-C7NJIKYV/2018. This complaint was worked up by one of my 2018 Summer School students (Lucy Romanoff). On 30 March 2019 , I complained that this and similar products were still being advertised and again on 8 August 2019.
The breaches included advertising Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators (SARMs) which are not approved for sale or promotion by the TGA. The use of SARMS has been linked to liver failure and increased risk of heart attack and stroke. Importing, supplying or possessing SARMs without a valid prescription, license or authority is illegal.
On 13 March 2020, the TGA commenced court proceedings against Evolution Supplements Australia and its sole director (Mr Cumhur Keskin) for alleged advertising breaches. Ironically, there is no mention of this in the TGA complaint outcomes database. This is a common problem; the TGA does not keep their complaint outcome database up-to-date.
It has taken 16 months from the first complaint to get to this point. Meanwhile, Evolution Supplements Australia continues to sell these products; presumably Mr Keskin is laughing all the way to the bank. His next response may be to declare bankruptcy (as did Peptide Clinics Australia) and escape all penalties.
Outcome of student complaints: Case 2
On 27 January 2020 I submitted a complaint about Contract Manufacturing & Packaging Services Pty Ltd & Zifam Pinnacle’s Skin Whitening product Facia Premium, TGA reference number AC-1J8YT9YX/2020.
The complaint had been worked up by one of my 2020 WIL STEM students, Aung Ko Oo. It has now been publicised by the ABC, ‘Beauty supplement claiming to be made in Australia to ‘whiten skin’ criticised as ‘unethical‘. However, despite the serious nature of this complaint, and the fact that this promoting this product overseas diminishes Australia’s reputation in the region, the TGA have not yet provided an outcome for this complaint. And why is the 2013 ACCM recommended warning about glutathione not in place?
Finally, this is a nice example of the role of the cosmetic / supplement industry. Their aim is to create dissatisfaction to sell products; brown people need to be whiter and white people need to be browner (despite the risk to the latter of malignant melanoma from too much sun and tanning clinics)! See also, Jeremy Taylor’s ‘Black and White Calypso‘ (Live).
There must be a better way for the TGA to of deal with these companies!
On Wednesday, 18 March 2020, I’ll be in Sydney attending a workshop (representing Choice) of the, ‘Independent Review of Reforms to the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Framework’ with TGA consultants, Ms Sinclair and Protiviti Pty Ltd. The numerous complaints worked up by my students (and the inadequete response of the TGA as documented by our research) will be important discussion points.by