$40k fine for unlawful advertising

A women’s clothing company has been fined almost $40,000 after it promoted “anti-virus activewear”

The TGA announced on Friday that it had issued three infringement notices, totalling $39,960, to the Brisbane company Lorna Jane Pty Ltd, for alleged unlawful advertising in relation to COVID-19.

Lorna Jane allegedly claimed, on its website, that its ‘anti-virus activewear’ prevents and protects against infectious diseases, which the TGA says implies that the clothing is effective against COVID-19.

“This kind of advertising could have detrimental consequences for the Australian community, creating a false sense of security and leading people to be less vigilant about hygiene and social distancing,” said Adjunct Professor John Skerritt, Deputy Secretary of the Department of Health.

The TGA alleges that Lorna Jane represented its ‘anti-virus activewear’ for therapeutic use and therefore believes that it is a therapeutic good within the meaning of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.

The advertisement referred to therapeutic goods that were not included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods, the TGA says.

Under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989, any references to COVID-19 (and related terms) in the promotion of these types of goods are restricted representations: referring to a serious form of a disease, condition, ailment or defect.

The use of restricted representations in advertisements for therapeutic goods is unlawful without a prior formal approval or permission from the TGA, the organisation says, pointing out that it is also a breach of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code (No. 2) 2018 to promote a therapeutic good as being safe, harmless or without side effects.

The TGA says that the Lorna Jane advertisements are of significant concern given the current pandemic, and it has published a warning to advertisers and consumers about illegal advertising relating to COVID-19.

According to a statement by the RACGP, the website stated that any bacteria that came in contact with the fabric “is terminated when it comes in touch with the LJ Shield particles”.

The company allegedly claimed that when the “L J Shield” product was “sprayed onto the fabric” as a “light weight mist” it permanently adhered to the surface of the material “to act as a shield of protection for you”.

The website also noted that L J Shield “breaks through the membrane shell of any toxic diseases” including “bacteria or germs that come into contact with it, not only killing that microbe but preventing it from multiplying into anymore,” the RACGP said.

“Active wear is great for the gym but it can’t protect you against viruses or bacteria. I suspect Lorna Jane are cynically trying to exploit fears concerning the COVID-19 pandemic to sell clothes,” said RACGP president Dr Harry Nespolon.

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