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Pharmacy fined $13,320 for alleged unlawful advertising
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), part of the Department of Health, has issued an infringement notice for $13,320 to Newcastle-based retailer Junction Rx Pty Limited trading as My Community Pharmacy (Junction Rx). The TGA issued the fine for alleged advertising of an unlisted complementary medicine after Junction Rx failed to comply with a cease and desist notice by the set deadline.
Junction Rx allegedly advertised a therapeutic good called ‘FatBlaster Apple Cider Vinegar and Garcinia Max' on its website. This product is not listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG), a register of therapeutic goods that may be lawfully supplied in Australia. Under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act), therapeutic goods (including complementary medicines such as vitamins and herbal products) must be entered in the ARTG before they can be lawfully supplied or advertised in Australia unless a valid exemption or exclusion applies.
Junction Rx was one of fifteen online retailers issued with cease and desist notices regarding alleged unlawful advertising of the product. Fourteen of the online retailers came into compliance by the TGA's deadline.
The TGA investigation into online advertisers of the product follows similar action taken in relation to the Australian sponsor of the product Cat Media Pty Ltd. On 18 November 2020 the TGA issued an infringement notice to Cat Media in relation to the advertising of the product, which has now been paid.
Important information for advertising therapeutic goods online
It is each person's responsibility to ensure their advertising content is compliant with the Act prior to publication. The TGA regulates online advertisers in the same way as the sponsors of the product on the ARTG.
The TGA reminds online advertisers that sanctions and penalties can apply if you advertise therapeutic goods (e.g. medicines and medical devices) in a way that does not comply with Australia's advertising laws. This means that the TGA can issue infringement notices and even take court action in relation to non-compliant advertising.
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 any consultants however we maintain a list of organisations that may be able to help you find one.