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TGA initiates court proceedings against MMS Australia and director Charles Barton for alleged unlawful advertising

29 May 2020

The Department of Health's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has initiated proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia in response to the alleged unlawful advertising of Miracle Mineral Supplement (also referred to as Miracle Mineral Solution) (MMS), dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO) and other medicines by Southern Cross Directories Pty Ltd trading as MMS Australia.

The TGA recently issued MMS Australia with twelve infringement notices totalling $151,200 for alleged unlawful advertising. The TGA also informed MMS Australia that it must immediately remove all advertisements in breach of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act), and warned that court action may be initiated if the advertisements were not removed within two days.

MMS Australia did not remove the allegedly unlawful advertising. The TGA has therefore initiated court proceedings to obtain an injunction restraining MMS Australia and its director, Charles Barton, from advertising or supplying the relevant goods. The TGA will also seek orders that MMS Australia and Mr Barton pay penalties for alleged contraventions of the Act.

The TGA has taken this action to address the public health risks that may arise from the ongoing advertising and supply of products that are not approved as therapeutic goods in Australia.

The TGA is particularly concerned about the harmful effects that can be caused by the ingestion of MMS, and has published a safety alert to warn consumers about claims made about MMS for the treatment, cure, prevention or alleviation of disease, including COVID-19. Further information about the alleged breaches is available in the following document:

How to access a pdf document

The TGA takes action concerning unlawful activity

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.

In July 2019, the Federal Court of Australia ordered Peptide Clinics Australia to pay $10 million to the Commonwealth for breaches of the mandatory rules for advertising.

In March 2020, the TGA commenced proceedings against Evolution Supplements Australia Pty Ltd and its sole director in relation to alleged advertising contraventions. In that matter, the Federal Court granted, by consent, an interim injunction to prevent the continuation of the alleged unlawful advertising.

Any person, including businesses, must comply with the requirements for advertising. The TGA encourages online advertising complaints to prevent potentially serious outcomes.

The TGA is also reminding consumers to be on the lookout for misleading ads in its how to spot a dodgy health product ad campaign.