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Regulators warn HCPs to stick to the facts on COVID-19 advertising and information 

Health professionals are being warned to be careful with advertising and information they provide about COVID-19. 

A statement from AHPRA issued on the Pharmacy Board website said: “While the vast majority of health practitioners are responding professionally to the COVID-19 emergency and focusing on providing safe care, Ahpra and National Boards are seeing some examples of false and misleading advertising on COVID-19”.

Examples listed by AHPRA were some advertising claims that spinal adjustment/manipulation, acupuncture and some products confer or boost immunity or enhance recovery from COVID-19 when there is no acceptable evidence in support.

It is vital that “health practitioners only provide information about COVID-19 that is scientifically accurate and from authoritative sources, such as a state, territory or Commonwealth health department or the World Health Organization (WHO),” the Board advised.

“According to these authoritative sources, there is currently no cure or evidence-based treatment or therapy which prevents infection by COVID-19 and work is currently underway on a vaccine”.

“Other than sharing health information from authoritative sources, registered health practitioners should not make advertising claims on preventing or protecting patients and health consumers from contracting COVID-19 or accelerating recovery from COVID-19. To do so involves risk to public safety and may be unlawful advertising”.

Meanwhile, the TGA has reminded hand sanitiser manufacturers that they “cannot make a therapeutic use claim that directly or indirectly refers to coronavirus (COVID-19)”.

This warning is irrespective of whether the product was covered by the 27 March Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods—Hand Sanitisers) Determination 2020 that excluded specified hand sanitisers from the operation of the therapeutic goods legislation, when advertised or presented for supply in a specified way.

The TGA reminded consumers that the Department of Health recommendation was using soap and water for hand washing wherever possible.

A listing of COVID-19 testing kits currently approved for inclusion on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) has also been published by the TGA.

The agency advised that “conditions have been imposed on the supply of COVID-19 serology-based point of care tests”.

Further information on these conditions can be found at: Legal supply of COVID-19 test kits.

The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity has been funded to undertake a post-market assessment of new COVID-19 rapid tests to inform their best use.

The Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia (RCPA) has issued a statement saying it “advises against” the use of serological COVID-19 IgG/IgM rapid tests, such as a pin prick blood test, to detect early COVID disease. 

President of the RCPA, Dr Michael Dray said: “The IgG/IgM tests have a fundamental limitation; they rely on the detection of antibodies made by the patient in response to SARS-COV-2, they do not detect the virus. Patients may only make antibodies to COVID-19 infection a week to 12 days after they first become sick, therefore, if doctors rely on these rapid tests early in the disease, their diagnosis will be wrong.” 


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