The TGA and COVID-19: Starting to use its compliance teeth!

Significant changes were made to the advertising framework of therapeutic goods during 2018-19. These included the TGA taking over the advertising complaint system, an updated, legally enforceable, advertising Code and stronger investigative and compliance powers. Yet the TGA initially appeared reluctant to use the powers given, preferring instead to ‘educate’ industry rather than enforce the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code.

Consumer groups have long argued that penalties, not negotiation, is required for sponsors, advertisers and products who repeatedly violate the rules. To change behaviour, these penalties must outweigh the profit that comes from breaking the law.

The COVID-19 environment has finally stimulated the TGA to action. Marketers never waste a crisis and misleading, deceptive and dangerous advertising claims to prevent or cure COVID-19 have proliferated. These have been accorded high priority by the TGA who are now starting to enforce the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code using their compliance teeth.

TGA actions have included:

  • Warning letters requiring advertisers to cease and desist advertising within tight timeframes (generally 48 hours).
  • Focusing compliance responses on the most significant breaches, e.g. illegal advertising of unregistered goods or use of restricted or prohibited representations.
  • Stronger enforcement action such as infringement notices.
  • Publication of the details of infringement notices, now being done upon issue rather than upon payment to maximise the deterrence impact.

For example:

Well done TGA!

Next, what about tackling other areas of consumer concern such as numerous illegal products not on the ARTG, and others that lack evidence such as weight loss, hangover, cognitive enhancement and detox products?

Our desired TGA: Enforcing the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code using their teeth!

See also:

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About Dr Ken Harvey

Public Health Physician, Medical activitist
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