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Arborvitae Health and Wellbeing fined $12,600 for alleged advertising breaches in relation to COVID-19

30 June 2020

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has issued an infringement notice for $12,600 to Sydney-based company Arborvitae Health and Wellbeing Pty Ltd for alleged unlawful advertising in relation to COVID-19.

Arborvitae Health and Wellbeing allegedly claimed, on the company's website, that Arborvitae Health and Wellbeing Supplement (Arborvitae) is an effective treatment for COVID-19. Under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act), any claims or references to treating COVID-19 (and related terms) are restricted representations. A restricted representation refers to a serious form of a disease, condition, ailment or defect. The use of restricted representations in advertisements for therapeutic goods is unlawful without an approval or permission from the TGA.

The TGA has informed Arborvitae Health and Wellbeing that all relevant advertising must be immediately removed from the company's website.

Advertisements of this nature are of significant concern to the TGA given the current pandemic. The TGA has published a warning to advertisers and consumers about illegal advertising relating to COVID-19.

The TGA takes action against advertising breaches

The regulatory scheme is important to the safety of Australian consumers and the TGA investigates suspected illegal activity in relation to therapeutic goods. A range of compliance and enforcement tools are available and where necessary, this may include criminal or civil court proceedings, which can result in substantial penalties, fines or imprisonment.

Any person, including businesses, advertising therapeutic goods to consumers must comply with the requirements for advertising. The TGA encourages people to report suspected non-compliant advertising via its advertising complaints form.

The TGA website includes tips for consumers about how to spot a dodgy health product.