Unfounded claims about complementary medicine put patients in danger: RACGP

Paul Hayes

23/05/2018 3:27:47 PM

Proposed legislation to legalise un-scientific claims on complementary medicines will place Australian patients at risk and must not come into force, Chair of the RACGP Expert Committee – Quality Care Dr Evan Ackermann told newsGP.

Claims that could appear on complementary medicine labels include, ‘tonifies kidney essence’, ‘opens body orifices’, ‘replenishes gate of vitality’ and ‘release exterior’.
Claims that could appear on complementary medicine labels include, ‘tonifies kidney essence’, ‘opens body orifices’, ‘replenishes gate of vitality’ and ‘release exterior’.

The RACGP has joined consumer advocacy group CHOICE in its calls for Australia’s Federal Senators to block proposed legislation that would allow dangerous claims to be included on complementary medicines.
‘The 860 claims that will be legally permitted on complementary medicine under this new legislation have no scientific basis and can cause harm,’ Dr Ackermann told newsGP. ‘It is not acceptable that Australian patients are being misled and, as a result, wasting their money based on these claims.
‘Our politicians must step up and protect their communities from unfounded claims that are misleading patients to think they are improving their health.’
The Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2017 Measures No. 1) Bill 2017 and Therapeutic Goods (Charges) Amendment Bill 2017 came about following from the 2015 Sansom Review into medicines and medical devices and will come into effect from 25 June. Under the new legislation:

  • homeopathic products can claim they decrease the time it takes to fall asleep and relieve symptoms of mild anxiety despite the Federal Government warning that homeopathic products are ineffective
  • tonics can claim to help maintain healthy heart function without having scientific evidence to back their claims.
‘The legislation lists over 1000 claims that therapeutic goods companies can select from when making product claims – 86% of the claims listed are not backed by scientific evidence and can be made on the basis the product has traditionally been used for that purpose,’ CHOICE Campaigns and Policy Team Lead Katinka Day said.
‘Our message to senators couldn’t be clearer: Australians need to be protected from misleading and
dangerous claims.’
The RACGP has long called for mandatory disclaimers on all traditional complimentary medicines, making it clear that they are not accepted by most modern medical experts.
‘The Therapeutic Goods Administration [TGA] must prioritise patients’ health and safety by supporting evidence-based medicines and not unsubstantiated claims such as “moistens dryness in the triple burner”’, Dr Ackermann said.
‘The passing of the 2017 TGA bill allows companies to profit on nothing more than endorsements of pseudoscience.’

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P Del Fante   24/05/2018 2:38:03 AM

The RACGP HANDI guidelines for ME/cfs recommend a potentially harmful treatment of Graded Exercise Therapy based on a now debunked UK study called PACE. The US has removed their recommendations of this treatment, UK NICE is presently looking at it but Australia still recommends it.
The PACE study is now being used as an example of how NOT to do a scientific study.
Scottish MP recently in Parliament called it "the greatest medical scandal of the C21st".
The Cochrane review also is based on this so does not hold weight.
How long will Australians with this serious neuroimmune illness (US IOM Report 2015) be harmed by this treatment backed by the medical establishment?

Richard Smith   25/05/2018 2:47:23 PM

There is no such thing as a complementary medicine, except by name.
Synergism is the scientific word and is justifiable with medications such as trimethoprim/sufamethoxazole and amoxycillin/clavulanate being two common examples.
It's time that a systematic review of non-medications analysed and removed their purported claims from the guise of respectability and efficacy.