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Epharmacy Group Pty Ltd fined $26,640 for alleged unlawful advertising on the ePharmacy website

24 March 2021

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), part of the Department of Health, has issued two infringement notices totalling $26,640 to Melbourne-based online retailer Epharmacy Group Pty Ltd (Epharmacy Group), trading as ePharmacy. The fines were issued for the alleged unlawful advertising of Fatblaster Clinical, a complementary medicine cancelled from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).

In December 2020, Epharmacy Group allegedly advertised a therapeutic good known as Fatblaster Clinical capsules, on two pages of its ePharmacy website. Fatblaster Clinical was not listed in the ARTG at the time of advertising, as the TGA cancelled the entry on 20 December 2019.

Therapeutic goods cancelled from the ARTG cannot be advertised to Australian consumers. Advertisements promoting the use or supply of cancelled therapeutic goods (including complementary medicines such as vitamins and herbal products) breach the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act).

Epharmacy Group was one of fifteen retailers issued with cease and desist notices in relation to the alleged unlawful advertising of Fatblaster Clinical.

Important information for retailers that advertise therapeutic goods

Advertisers are responsible for ensuring their therapeutic goods advertising is compliant with the Act. Advertising of therapeutic goods by retailers (including online retailers) is subject to the same rules as the advertising conducted by the sponsors of the products in the ARTG.

Educational information and resources about Australia's advertising rules for therapeutic goods can be found on the TGA website. If you need regulatory assistance regarding your specific circumstances we encourage you to seek independent legal advice or the assistance of a regulatory affairs consultant. The TGA does not endorse consultants, however we maintain a list of industry organisations that may be able to help you find one.

The TGA takes action against breaches of the Act

The regulatory scheme is critical to the safety of Australian consumers and the TGA investigates suspected unlawful activity in relation to therapeutic goods.

The TGA reminds online advertisers that sanctions and penalties can apply if they advertise therapeutic goods (e.g. medicines and medical devices) in a way that does not comply with Australia's advertising laws. A range of compliance and enforcement tools means that the TGA can issue infringement notices and even take court action in relation to non-compliant advertising.

The TGA encourages people to report suspected non-compliant advertising, including the promotion of cancelled therapeutic goods, via its advertising reporting form.

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