IV infusions under fire


woman on IV drip patient

Complaint filed to HCCC and TGA over therapeutic claims for IV therapy made by Australian clinics

A number of Australian businesses are making therapeutic claims for IV therapy that a leading health academic alleges lack scientific evidence and exploit consumers.

Claims for various IV therapies at these clinics include that they “combat hangovers”, “remove toxins”, “remove fat”, are “anti-ageing’, “prevent colds and upper respiratory tract infections”, “boost immunity”, “relieve fatigue”, “provide mental clarity” and “improve memory function”, among others.

Some clinics are also advertising IV drip therapy for serious conditions such as the “treatment for acute asthma attacks”, “chronic sinusitis”, “seasonal allergies”, “depression” and “cardiovascular disease”.

These drips provide infusions comprising a variety of vitamins, minerals and other substances.

A complaint has been submitted to the NSW Health Care Complaints Commission and the TGA asking them to investigate these clinics and the registered health professionals that compound and administer the promoted treatments.

“In my opinion, the companies concerned, and the medical and nursing staff they employ are in breach of s.133 of the National Law,” says Dr Ken Harvey, Associate Professor of Public Health and Preventive Medicine at Monash University, who submitted the complaint.

“This is because the claims made are false, misleading and deceptive; most cannot be substantiated, they create an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment and they encourage the unnecessary use of health services.

“In addition, the medical, nursing and compounding pharmacy staff involved are likely to be in breach of their respective Codes of Conduct because, by providing this service, they are not acting their patients’ best interests,” says Dr Harvey.

His complaint relates to claims made by six different companies, with some providing the services in Sydney and Newcastle as well as other various cities along the east coast of Australia.

Dr Harvey, who is a trained medical practitioner and consumer safety advocate, argues that there are no benefits from the IV therapies promoted, with the possible exception of a placebo response.

However he points out potential risks to the treatments including vasovagal attacks (fainting), bruising, haematoma, thrombosis and, rarely but importantly, infection – especially if done in potentially unhygienic circumstances such as in people’s homes or even poolside.

Some of the businesses are offering a mobile service where they will come to the customer and administer IV drips at their homes, weddings, corporate events and bucks’ and hens’ parties.

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