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Halting the spread of pseudo-scientific medical ‘advice’


Anastasia Tsirtsakis


29/04/2020 2:20:27 PM

From pulling a magazine with false claims about 5G to the TGA fining a celebrity chef, medical misinformation poses an ongoing risk.

Magazine rack
Coles and Woolworths pulled ‘What Doctors Don’t Tell You’ from their shelves following false claims about 5G.

Doctors have welcomed the decision by Coles and Woolworths to pull What Doctors Don’t Tell You from supermarket shelves, after it came to light the alternative medicine magazine was telling readers how to protect themselves from 5G.
 
RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon applauded the supermarket chains for exercising ‘sound corporate responsibility’.
 
‘Doctors aren’t keeping anything from you, we are working as hard as we can to help our patients every day,’ Dr Nespolon said.
 
‘I understand that people are anxious and suffering from information overload, but please apply a “sniff test” to information you are seeing on social media or supermarket shelves.’
 
Heightened public concern around the pandemic has seen a concerning trend emerge of pseudo-scientific medical ‘advice’ being disseminated to Australians.
 
Celebrity chef Pete Evans, a prominent anti-vaccination advocate, was recently fined more than $25,000 by the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s (TGA) for promoting a ‘BioCharger’, claiming the device could fight coronavirus.
 
The TGA was alerted to the incident after Mr Evans livestreamed the product on 9 April to his 1.4 million followers on Facebook, allegedly claiming it was ‘programmed with a thousand different recipes, and there’s a couple in there for the Wuhan coronavirus’.
 
Selling on Mr Evans’ website for $14,990, it claimed the BioCharger was ‘proven to restore strength, stamina, co-ordination and mental clarity’, as well as assist with ‘recovery ... from an injury, stress’,  and ‘accelerating muscle recovery and reducing stiffness in joints’.
 
An investigation by the TGA confirmed there was ‘no apparent foundation’ for Mr Evans’ claims, issuing his company Peter Evans Chef Pty Ltd with two infringements totalling $25,200.
 
Dr Nespolon welcomed the TGA’s decision.
 
‘I hope that it gives pause for thought for anyone taking advantage of this pandemic to spread false and misleading nonsense on social media,’ Dr Nespolon said.
 
‘This “light machine” doesn’t do anything but drain your wallet. However, the problem is that it may lull people into a false sense of security which means they don’t act as cautiously as they otherwise would on responsibilities such as social distancing.
 
‘This celebrity chef can carry on all he likes about “activated almonds” and whatever latest fad excites him, but he should steer clear of health advice, particularly when it comes to something as serious as COVID-19.’

The TGA issued a warning to advertisers and consumers in March about illegal advertising relating to COVID-19, urging people to report any suspicious claims.
 
Dr Nespolon encouraged all Australians to ignore Mr Evans’ social media content, and instead ‘listen to the experts, including your GP’.
 
‘We have your best interests at heart and we are doing all we can,’ he said.
 
The advice is in line with the RACGP’s new nationwide campaign Expert Advice Matters, calling on Australians to ‘Look after your health – keep seeing your GP’.
 
While strong messaging regarding the need to stay home during the pandemic has been successful in flattening the coronavirus curve in Australia, it has come to light that many Australians have been avoiding vital medical care with their GP.
 
The campaign website provides patients with practical advice on how they can have a consultation with their GP either via telehealth or face-to-face.
 
The RACGP has also put together resources and advice for GPs to assist practices in making the transition to telehealth consultations.
 
‘Now, more than ever, we need to heed expert medical advice and ignore pseudo-scientific nonsense and myths that will “cure” COVID-19 and all else,’ Dr Nespolon said.
 
‘Instead, listen to your local GP because expert advice matters and we are doing all we can to keep you safe and well.’
 
The RACGP has more information on coronavirus available on its website.
 
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Dr Gulam Qadir Shojai   2/05/2020 2:47:47 AM

Thanks from TGA who quickly found the celebrity chef peter Evan who is just a cook . He's aye not a scientist neither a medical professional .His cliams are nonsense and totally stupid. Thanks for Dr .Nespolon who critisized peter the cook , to mind his cooking business and stay away from making medical propaganda and misleading Australians to wrong medical information . Government should give fine and ban to that device making company