Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Foxes and Henhouses

By Peter Bowditch

Parliament is considering legislation that will give the complementary medicine industry more freedom to make deceptive claims.

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The Federal Parliament is considering recommendations from the Senate Community Affairs Legislation Committee relating to two pieces of legislation: the Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2017 Measures No.1) Bill 2017 and the Therapeutic Goods (Charges) Amendment Bill 2017. A quick perusal of the Committee’s report ( suggests that the makers and sellers of “complementary medicines” will have even more freedom to deceive the public than they do now. The particular areas that interest me are changes to the advertising rules for therapeutic goods and the type of claims that can be made about them.

Readers with longish memories might remember the Pan Pharmaceuticals saga from 2003. Pan manufactured and packaged the majority of supplements and alternative medicines sold in Australia. (They were what is known as a “toll manufacturer” in that they produced goods for sale under the names of other companies, not their own.) The Therapeutic Goods Administration found that the idea of quality control at Pan had nothing to do with either quality or control. The reaction of the alternative medicine industry was not to rejoice at the exposure of almost unbelievably bad manufacturing practices and the possibility of improvement but to loudly scream that it was a “witch hunt”....

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.