NINE out of 10 vitamins, weight-loss products and complementary medicines fail to meet regulatory standards
A scathing investigation by the Auditor-General of the Therapeutic Goods Administration has found the TGA is a toothless tiger when it comes to penalising companies that breach the advertising rules, because fines of just $33,000 make it uneconomic to prosecute offenders.
There are more than 10,000 complementary medicines such as vitamins, fish oil and weight-loss products on the Australian market, registered on a self-assessment basis by the suppliers.
The companies are meant to hold evidence of their products' efficacy, but when the TGA checked in 2005 it found "in most cases" the information was inadequate to support the claims.
But the medicines watchdog failed to implement a policy that would require all sponsors of complementary medicines to submit a summary of the evidence they hold to the TGA.
The TGA regularly checks a small number of the complementary medicines it has registered, and the most recent audit found up to 90 per cent were not complying with regulations.