myDNA has withdrawn its pharmacy assistant rewards program after Friends of Science in Medicine’s Ken Harvey made a complaint to the TGA
Until Thursday July 18, the program was being promoted by myDNA and another pharmacy publication.
“During the months of August and September 2019 assistants at any pharmacy that stocks myDNA Vitamins have the chance to earn Coles Gift Cards,” Dr Harvey told the AJP on Thursday.
Participating assistants could earn $5 for each myDNA vitamins kit they sold (if they sold four or more), and a $1000 gift card if they “sell the most”.
“This program breaches S.18 of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code (No.2) 2018: ‘An advertisement must not offer any personal incentive to a pharmacy assistant, or any retail salesperson who is not a health professional, to recommend or supply therapeutic goods’,” Dr Harvey said.
“In addition, pharmacists (and pharmacy assistants) are meant to recommend products on the basis of evidence; recommending a product because they are being remunerated for selling it (which I’m sure they would not disclose to their customers) is an egregious breach of professional ethics (and the Pharmacy Code).”
The Pharmacy Code states that they should not be “asking for or accepting any inducement, gift or hospitality from companies that sell or market drugs or other products that may affect or be seen to affect the way practitioners prescribe for, treat or refer patients or clients,” he pointed out.
In the complaint to the TGA, Dr Harvey called the promotion an “egregious breach of an important consumer protection provision of the Code”.
He said that the TGA should assess the complaint as a high priority.
He was asking the TGA to order that the program be rescinded, and to ensure that a prominent notice is placed in all media where it was promoted, highlighting the S.18 breach of the Code.
Dr Harvey also asked the TGA to make a determination of the regulatory status and evidence base of a number of in-vitro diagnostic tests, which he was unable to find on the ARTG.
After the AJP reached out to myDNA for comment on the complaint on Thursday, the organisation provided a statement saying that the campaign was discontinued as of Friday.
“This campaign was part of the myDNA Academy, an education program designed for pharmacy employees,” it said.
“Given education is the primary focus of this program, myDNA has withdrawn the campaign. We thank Ken Harvey for bringing this to our attention.
“All myDNA testing kits are registered with, and compliant with all relevant Australian regulatory bodies.”