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Therapeutic Goods Advertising Consultative Committee, 18 October 2018


22 January 2019

The first meeting of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Consultative Committee (TGACC) was held at the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Symonston office on 18 October 2018. TGACC members include a diverse range of stakeholders with an interest in the advertising of therapeutic goods, including those consumers in rural Australia and health practitioners.

Members shared the key issues they see in relation to therapeutic goods advertising with the TGACC. These included the need for early consultation on how the Advertising Code applies to advertisers and protects consumers, ongoing clarification of the Advertising Code; low heath literacy levels amongst Australian consumers, the opportunity for advertising to assist consumers to appropriately manage their health and the complex interface between foods, chemicals/cosmetics and therapeutic goods, particularly with regards to complementary medicines.

The role of the TGACC was clarified at the meeting, noting the importance of priority setting, finding the balance between education and compliance activities to protect the health and safety of Australian consumers, and the need to provide transparency around the regulation of the advertising of therapeutic goods to the Australian public. The ongoing need for analysis to drive education and compliance strategies is of importance in protecting Australian consumers and providing a level playing field for industry.

The TGACC examined the implementation of a range of changes arising from the Expert Panel Review of Medicines and Medical Devices Regulation (MMDR), including the establishment of the TGA as the single body for handling complaints about the advertising of therapeutic products and a new Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code, which was made on 30 June 2018 with effect from 1 January 2019.

The TGACC considered the new advertising code and detailed guidance, including the differences between the 2015 and newly made 2018 codes. The TGA presented proposed amendments to the 2018 Advertising Code, along with examples to assist with understanding the application of the amendments. A revised 2018 Advertising Code with guidance will be made by the end of October 2018. During 2019, a pragmatic approach will be taken in relation to enforcement with respect to advertisers achieving compliance with the new code.

The TGA provided an overview of the complaints management framework covering the process of initial assessment, triaging and the complaints handling model, as well as the education being provided to enhance voluntary compliance.

The TGACC examined the Key Performance Indicators for advertising complaints handling and accepted them as a useful tool for monitoring the new complaints handling system. Complaints data from 1 July to 30 September 2018 was reviewed, noting the very high volume of complaints received compared with the number received by the Complaints Resolution Panel in previous years. The TGACC discussed the benefits that are expected from the use of data over time, that will provide category/product type analysis of complaints and how it will further our understanding of the education needs of key stakeholder groups. It will also assist with designing appropriate compliance strategies.

The next meeting will be held in the first quarter of 2019.