The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has issued seven infringement notices totalling $18,648 to the individual responsible for the Invigorate Labs website, for alleged breaches of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act). The alleged breaches relate to the advertising of products containing cannabidiol (CBD).
The Invigorate Labs website allegedly advertised CBD vaping liquid and other CBD products that were not entered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) and were not exempt from being so. As a result, the TGA had not evaluated these products for quality, safety or efficacy and the manufacturer had not obtained relevant approvals.
In Australia, it is illegal to advertise therapeutic goods that have not been entered in the ARTG (unless an exemption or approval applies).
Advertising, on the Invigorate Labs website, allegedly claimed that a CBD cream product is an effective treatment for “palindromic rheumatoid arthritis”. As a serious form of a condition, this is a restricted representation that requires prior approval of the TGA before being used in advertising. In this case, no approval had been granted.
The TGA alleges that the individual also made a prohibited representation, on a related social media platform, in relation to the use of CBD oil for the treatment of cancer.
The TGA notified the individual on multiple occasions to remove the relevant advertising. On each occasion, the individual appeared to engage in a phoenix activity, where the website was removed and replaced.
The TGA is very concerned about advertisers engaging in deceptive conduct to evade the regulatory rules that are in place to protect the health of Australian consumers. The use of duplicity by a business was recently criticised by the Federal Court of Australia when it ordered Evolution Supplements Australia Pty Ltd and its director to pay a total of $12 million for the unlawful advertising of sports supplement products that had not been entered in the ARTG. The court found the contraventions and deceptive conduct were of such seriousness that “other traders should be sent a very strong message that such conduct should not occur”.
The TGA website includes a printable infographic about safe and legal access to medicinal cannabis products for suitable circumstances. Please speak with your doctor if you have any questions about medicinal cannabis for the possible treatment of your health condition.
The TGA advises consumers that if you are considering buying health products online it is important to be careful. Products sold online that are not entered in the ARTG may contain undeclared ingredients and could cause unexpected or severe adverse reactions.
The TGA encourages the reporting of suspected non-compliant advertising.
If you suspect non-compliance in relation to therapeutic goods more broadly, you can report illegal or questionable practices online to the TGA.