TGA advertising complaint system concerns: response from Minister Hunt and Ombudsman

Minister Hunt (or more likely the TGA) has now responded to my letter that expressed concerns about the new TGA advertising complaint system.

The Minister confirms that the TGA’s advertising complaint system was designed to be non-transparent for low priority complaints (including how this priority is assigned).

There are now 232 complaint “outcomes” posted on the TGA web site. All except 4 have been closed after a “Compliance Notice sent with educational material”. The 4 exceptions were “Warned – Compliance achieved without formal action – closed”. These outcomes do have details of the advertiser and the product if the links are explored but these details cannot be found by the search function.

The Minister said, “We are in the process of establishing the TGA Advertising Consultative Committee, with the first meeting to occur prior to 31 December 2018”.

The response of the Commonwealth Ombudsman to similar concerns is appended. It says, “We cannot instruct the Department of Health to change its existing processes or policies”.

Which makes a mockery of their byline: Influencing systemic improvement in public administration.

From: Adrian <>
Sent: Monday, 17 September 2018 12:52
Subject: Commonwealth Ombudsman – Our reference 2018-710509 [SEC=UNCLASSIFIED]

Dear Dr Harvey

I refer to your complaint of 7 September 2018 about the Department of Health regarding the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s complaints process.

I have considered your complaint and have decided not to investigate it. I have made this decision because The Ombudsman’s Office generally investigates complaints where we are likely to achieve a better practical outcome and I do not believe our Office can achieve a favourable or different outcome in the circumstances.

The Commonwealth Ombudsman’s Office handles complaints about the administrative actions of Australian Federal Government agencies. As part of our role, we monitor complaints about the Department of Health to identify reoccurring themes or trends in complaints (that is, issues affecting multiple complainants over time). We cannot instruct the Department of Health to change its existing processes or policies but we can offer comments and make recommendations on these. We hope to be able to achieve better outcomes and improvements to government administration through ongoing monitoring and analysis.

Even if we do not investigate the individual complaint, we do keep a record of it. This information feeds into our work monitoring complaints for potential systemic issues that we may be able to investigate and improve at the broader level.

For the reasons outlined above, an investigation by our Office is not warranted. We will retain all details of your complaint on file. 

Yours sincerely

Assessment Officer | Intake, Assessment and Early Resolution Team
Commonwealth Ombudsman
Phone: 1300 362 072

Influencing systemic improvement in public administration



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About Dr Ken Harvey

Public Health Physician, Medical activitist
This entry was posted in Complementary medicine, Pharmaceutical Promotion and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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