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Sydney man fined $7,992 for alleged unlawful advertising of a disinfectant and hand sanitiser in relation to COVID-19

18 December 2020

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), part of the Department of Health, has issued three infringement notices totalling $7,992 to a Sydney man for the alleged unlawful advertising of a disinfectant and a hand sanitiser in relation to COVID-19.

The man allegedly advertised, on a website, a hospital grade disinfectant with claims that it eliminated viruses.

While the disinfectant was listed in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG), the indications for the ARTG listing did not allow for claims of virus elimination. The advertising of therapeutic goods for a different indication or intended use than that accepted in relation to the inclusion of the goods in the ARTG is a breach of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act).

Additionally, claims that a disinfectant has an effect against viruses are prohibited representations. The use of prohibited representations in advertisements for therapeutic goods is unlawful without the prior authorisation of the TGA. No relevant authorisation has been granted for the advertised claims.

The TGA also alleges that the man advertised, on a website, that a hand sanitiser was included in the ARTG when it had been cancelled by the TGA in August 2020. It is a breach of the Act to represent a therapeutic good that is not included in the ARTG as being included.

The TGA has published regulatory information for sponsors and manufacturers of cleaners and disinfectants and consumer disinfectant information.

For information about hand sanitisers, see Hand sanitisers: Information for manufacturers, suppliers and advertisers and Hand sanitisers: Information for consumers.

Advertising of this nature is 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's highest priority is to protect the health and safety of the Australian public through regulation of therapeutic goods.

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 illegal activity in relation to therapeutic goods. A range of compliance and enforcement tools are available and 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 reporting form.

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