Fake lights that claim to cure coronavirus, dodgy tests and dangerous hand sanitisers are just some of the products that have attracted fines for falsely claiming to fight COVID-19.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has dished out 58 penalty notices to 14 companies and four individuals with a total of $549,000 in fines.
Perhaps the most high-profile case came when celebrity chef Pete Evans was fined $25,200 after he posted a video claiming his company’s bizarre light machine had ‘recipes’ that can treat the ‘Wuhan virus’.
He also said the BioCharger was ‘proven’ to restore strength, stamina, coordination and mental clarity and could evan aid recovery from injuries and stress.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration said all of these claims had ‘no apparent foundation’.
Sydney-based firm Chemforce was also found to have made misleading claims about COVID-19.
They were hit with five infringement notices totaling $63,000 for unlawful advertising.
‘Chemforce allegedly advertised on its website a medicine known as RibaMin that is not included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG),’ the watchdog said.
‘Unless a specific exemption, approval or authority applies, therapeutic goods must be entered in the ARTG before they can be lawfully advertised to the general public in Australia.’
The advertising allegedly claimed the medicine is an effective treatment for COVID-19 – a claim rejected by the Therapeutic Goods Administration
Chemforce was hit with five infringement notices totaling $63,000 for unlawful advertising in relation to their medicine Ribimin
Queensland company Promedical Equipment is also in hot water after it implied on its website and via social media that the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the United States Food and Drug Administration had endorsed or approved a COVID-19 Rapid Test kit.
‘Promedical Equipment does not have a COVID-19 Rapid Test kit, or any other Class 3 in-vitro diagnostic medical device, included on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) for supply in Australia,’ the Therapeutic Goods Administration said.
Promedical was also hit with five infringement notices and fined a total of $63,000 for unlawful advertising.
Queensland company Promedical Equipment falsely claimed their COVID-19 rapid test was endorsed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and the United States Food and Drug Administration
The Therapeutic Goods Administration said even apparently simple products like hand sanitiser can be fraught with misleading information.
‘If you buy hand sanitisers online, be careful,’ they warned.
‘They may not do what the advertiser claims and may contain different ingredients to what the advertiser claims.
‘If you buy hand sanitisers online, be careful,’ The Therapeutic Goods Administration warned
If a hand sanitiser claims to be ‘suitable for use in medical and health services’, it must either be regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, or meet specified formulation, manufacturing, labelling and advertising requirements.
‘If a hand sanitiser claims to kill specific organisms (e.g. E.coli or viruses), it is required to be regulated by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and assessed for safety, quality and effectiveness.
‘If a hand sanitiser makes these claims and it does not have an AUST R number on the label, it is likely to be an illegal product that has not been assessed by the TGA.’