The Australian Skeptics National Convention returned to the University of Melbourne’s Carrillo Gantner Theatre on 7th and 8th December 2019. One feature was a regulatory panel discussion: Could Australian regulators better protect consumers from misleading and dangerous advertising of products making therapeutic claims?
Background: From July 2018 the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) took over the advertising complaint system from the Complaint Resolution Panel (CRP). The TGA were given increased compliance and enforcement powers that the CRP lacked.
The TGA also declared certain products that had received numerous complaints not to be therapeutic goods, thus hand-balling regulatory responsibility to the Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC). The latter complained they were already overloaded, and a specialist regulator was more appropriate.
Meanwhile, controversial promotion of products at the food-medicine interface, such as self-declared sports supplements and medical foods, highlighted problems with Food Safety Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), State and Territory Food authorities, and their interrelationship with the TGA. There was also concern about the TGA’s new complaint system.
- Nicholas Heys, Deputy General Manager, Enforcement Coordination, Australian Competition & Consumer Commission (ACCC).
- John Skerritt, Deputy Secretary for Health Products Regulation, Australian Department of Health.
- Julie Woods, Discipline Leader (Nutrition), Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition, School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University (unfortunately unable to make it due to illness).
Chair and Session organiser:
- Assoc Prof Ken Harvey, President Friends of Science in Medicine. Background to the case studies.
- Basia Diug, Head of Undergraduate Courses and the Head (Quality and Innovation) of the Medical Education Research and Quality unit at the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University. Case study: Problems at the food-medicine interface.
- Paulina Stehlik, Research Fellow and Evidence Based Practice Professorial Unit Coordinator at the Centre for Research in Evidence-Based Practice at Bond University; President of the Gold Coast Skeptics. Case study: Declaring products not to be therapeutic goods: Ear candles, Magnets, Homeopathic products?
- Mal Vickers, Master of Public Health student at the School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine, Monash University. Case study: The TGA’s new advertising complaint system; is it better than the old one?