Chemist Warehouse and My Chemist have been handed more than $53,000 worth of infringement notices over advertising on their websites
The TGA announced this week that it has issued four infringement notices, totalling $53,280, to Melbourne-based online retailer CW IP Pty Ltd, trading as Chemist Warehouse and My Chemist (CW IP).
These fines were for the alleged unlawful advertising of a complementary medicine, Fatblaster Clinical.
In December 2020, CW IP allegedly advertised Fatblaster Clinical capsules, a therapeutic good, on four pages of its Chemist Warehouse and My Chemist websites, the TGA says.
At this time, Fatblaster Clinical capsules were not listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods, having had their listing cancelled on 20 December 2019.
The TGA also announced that it had issued two more infringement notices, totalling $26,640, to another Melbourne-based online retailer, Epharmacy Group Pty Ltd, trading as ePharmacy.
Again, the fines were issued for the alleged unlawful advertising of Fatblaster Clinical, on two pages of the retailer’s website.
In announcing the fines, the TGA pointed out that therapeutic goods which have been cancelled from the ARTG cannot be advertised to Australian consumers, and any such ads breach the Therapeutic Goods Act.
Public Health Physician and long-standing critic of the complementary medicines sector Dr Ken Harvey posted on Medreach about the complaints.
“From July 2018 to July 2019, complaints about a convenience sample of twenty-two complementary medicine weight loss products, by eight sponsors, advertised on 140 different Internet sites (cases) were submitted to the TGA,” he noted.
“FatBlaster products sponsored by Cat Media (Naturopathica) were highlighted.”
Dr Harvey wrote that a number of other products which lack a current ARTG listing are still being promoted at the time of writing in February 2021, including at Chemist Warehouse, ePharmacy, and goodpricepharmacy.com.au.
“Once cancelled, a therapeutic good can no longer be imported, manufactured, or exported from Australia, but it can be sold until the stocks run out,” he wrote.
“Advertising a product not on the ARTG is a serious breach of the Therapeutic Goods Act, but it appears that the TGA (and most advertisers) do not usually check ARTG cancellations to see if this is occurring. Advertisements for these products also provide no indication that they have been delisted.”
He also noted that Fatblaster Clinical, which is still being sold, was replaced with “Fatblaster Platinum + Thermoburn” and “Fatblaster Platinum Metabolism”.
The new fines come several days after Newcastle-based retailers Junction Rx Pty Limited, trading as My Community Pharmacy, were also fined after they allegedly unlawfully advertised another Fatblaster product, namely Apple Cider Vinegar and Garcinia Max, after it had been asked to stop.
In this instance the TGA issued an infringement notice for $13,320 to the retailer.
Meanwhile the TGA again noted that advertisers are responsible for ensuring their therapeutic goods advertising is compliant with the Act prior to release.
“Advertising of therapeutic goods by retailers (including online retailers) is subject to the same rules as the advertising conducted by the sponsors of the products in the ARTG,” it said.