24 May 2018

College joins push to block misleading claims

Complementary TheHill

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has added its weight to calls to block laws that would allow dangerous and misleading claims to be included on complementary medicines, such as vitamin supplements.

Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care, Dr Evan Ackermann said the proposed legislation put Australian patients in danger and must not come into force.

Under the new legislation, homeopathic products can claim they decrease the time it takes to fall asleep and relieve symptoms of mild anxiety and tonics can claim to help maintain healthy heart function without having scientific evidence to back their claims.

“The passing of the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2017 Measures No.1) Bill 2017 and the Therapeutic Goods (Charges) Amendment Bill 2017 allows companies to profit on nothing more than endorsements of pseudoscience,” Dr Ackermann said.

“The 860 claims that will be legally permitted on complementary medicine under this new legislation have no scientific basis and can cause harm,” he said.

The college’s call echoes that of other concerned groups, including the Friends of Science in Medicine and consumer advocacy group CHOICE.

The TGA appeared to be giving equal validity to “traditional” and “scientific” evidence that was not in keeping with modern scientific understanding, Friends of Science in Medicine said in a statement.

Dr Ackermann said that, at the very least, mandatory disclaimers should feature on all traditional complementary medicines, making it clear that they were not accepted by most modern medical experts.