Bid to stop “dangerous” CAM scenario becoming a reality


Consumer advocates have made an 11th hour bid to force manufacturers to declare when therapeutic claims for their complementary medicines are based solely on traditional use.

The TGA has now approved its list of “permitted indications” for therapeutic goods, which includes 1000 ‘indications’ many of which are not recognised by modern medicine, like “Activate meridians/channels” an ‘indication’ allowable for Traditional Chinese Medicines.

The TGA claims the list will provide “greater certainty and protection for consumers” by placing boundaries on the currently unlimited number of descriptions that can be made for low-risk products.

Consumer group Choice is now pushing for amendments to the list, saying in its current form will allow some 860 claims with no scientific basis to be displayed on therapeutic products regularly sold in pharmacies and supermarkets.

It will also allow manufacturers of homeopathic products to claim these products have therapeutic benefits – such as decreasing the time it takes to fall asleep and relieving symptoms of mild anxiety.

Choice Campaigns and Policy Team Lead Katinka Day told the limbic the campaigners had until 25 June to convince a Senate majority to approve a disallowance motion to enable an amendment to the list, before it becomes enshrined in legislation.

“At minimum, we’d like to see these companies display a clear warning on pack informing people that these claims are based solely on traditional use and have no scientific basis,” Ms Day says.

“The way the current legislation is it does not allow consumers to be able to separate fact from fiction, it makes it very difficult when you have thousands of products in front of you in the chemist or supermarket to work out what products are backed by evidence and which ones aren’t so it’s really calling for an amendment of the legislation on the basis that consumers should be informed.”

“Legislation should be based on the needs of consumers not based on the needs of pharmaceutical companies and therapeutic goods companies who want to put whatever they want on medicine.  That’s a really dangerous position that we might be in and what we’ll see is that therapeutic goods can make a whole range of claims without the science to back it up and that is a really dangerous future scenario.”

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