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March 15, 2018

Flogging dead horses. Beating heads against brick walls. Unsinkable rubber ducks. That's what regulatory control of quack medicine is like in Australia. I put pen to paper (actually fingers to keyboard) and had a whinge in Australasian Science magazine.

Foxes and henhouses

As this edition of the magazine goes to press, the Federal Parliament is considering recommendations from the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee relating to two pieces of legislation – the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2017 Measures No.1) Bill 2017 and the Therapeutic Goods (Charges) Amendment Bill 2017. The report was released to Parliament and the public only a couple of days before the printing deadline so I haven't had time to examine it in fine detail, but a quick perusal suggests that the makers and sellers of snake oil, sorry, "complementary medicines" will have even more freedom to deceive the public than they do now. The particular areas that interest me are changes to the advertising rules for therapeutic goods and the type of claims that can be made about them.

Readers with longish memories might remember the Pan Pharmaceuticals saga from 2003. Pan manufactured and packaged the majority of supplements and alternative medicines sold in Australia. (They were what is known as a "toll manufacturer" in that they produced goods for sale under the names of other companies, not their own.) A TGA investigation showed that the idea of quality control at Pan had nothing to do with either quality or control. (I had a client at the time who sold food and drug packaging machinery. They commented that the industry view of Pan was "Like the Keystone Kops".) The reaction of the alternative medicine industry was not to rejoice at the exposure of almost unbelievably bad manufacturing practices and the possibility of improvement but to loudly scream "witch hunt".

It continues on here.


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