Complaints about Advertisements for Therapeutic Products in Australia


Who to contact to complain about an advertisement or the conduct of a company supplying therapeutic products

The therapeutic goods industry associations each have a self-regulatory Code of Conduct or Code of Practice which sets the standards for member companies when promoting a medicine or medical technology. The Codes of Conduct/Practice include mechanisms for dealing with complaints about advertising and other conduct by companies. In addition there is a co-regulatory complaints process that deals with complaints about certain types of advertising about ALL types of therapeutic goods where the advertising appears in the mainstream media (such as TV and radio). This co-regulatory process applies to all companies regardless of whether they are a member of an industry association or not.

The therapeutic goods industry is broadly organised around the types of products its member companies supply:

  • Prescribed medicines (medicines that you can only get with a prescription). This sector includes both companies that are researching new medicines (innovator companies) and companies that are supplying generic medicines once all valid patents have expired
  • Non-prescription consumer healthcare products (including medicines you can get from a pharmacy without a script and those you can buy in a supermarket)
  • Complementary medicines and natural healthcare products (including vitamins, mineral and nutritional supplements, special purpose foods, herbal and homoeopathic medicines, aromatherapy products and natural cosmetics)
  • Medical technology (such as syringes and wound dressings, as well as high-technology implanted devices such as pacemakers, defibrillators, hip and other orthopaedic implants)
  • In vitro diagnostics (instruments and test reagents for pathology tests requested by doctors as well as over-the-counter tests such as blood glucose meters for diabetes testing or home pregnancy test kits)

If you would like to make a complaint about an advertisement or any other conduct by a company you will find further information about how to lodge your complaint and what you can expect from the complaints process on the websites listed below.

Where you should go to make your complaint will depend on the type of product involved and, if your complaint is about an advertisement, where you saw or heard the advertisement.

First, if your complaint is about an advertisement, where did you see or hear the advertisement? The Complaints Resolution Panel (CRP) deals with complaints about advertisements for any therapeutic product directed to consumers in TV, radio, the internet, newspapers, magazines, displays (except inside individual shops) and in cinemas. The CRP mailbox for complaints can be found here: http://www.tgacrp.com.au/index.cfm?pageID=19

If your complaint is about an advertisement not covered by the CRP or is about the conduct of a particular company, you need to consider two things. Firstly, what type of product the advertisement or conduct relates to referring to the general grouping of products listed above. Secondly, whether the company is a member of an industry association or not. Your complaint must be directed to the industry association of which the company is a member so that it can be dealt with under its self-regulatory Code of Conduct/Practice. If you are unsure where to go, any of the industry associations listed below will be happy to guide you to the most appropriate person to contact.

Type of therapeutic product

Industry Association

Website

Contact details

Prescribed medicines – innovator medicines Medicines Australia http://medicinesaustralia.com.au/code-of-conduct/lodging-responding-to-a-code-of-conduct-complaint/ telephone 02 6122 8500 and ask for the Code of Conduct Secretary or email codesecretary@medicinesaustralia.com.au
Prescribed medicines – generic medicines Generic Medicines Industry Association http://www.gmia.com.au/code-of-practice.html email code@gmia.com.au
Non-prescription consumer healthcare products and complementary medicines Australian Self Medication Industry /about/ASMI-Code-of-Practice.aspx telephone 02 9922 5111 or email steve@asmi.com.au
Complementary medicines and natural healthcare products Complementary Healthcare Council of Australia http://www.chc.org.au/Complaints telephone 02 6260 4022 or email: standards@chc.org.au
Medical technology and diagnostics Medical Technology Association of Australia http://www.mtaa.org.au/code-of-practice/complaints telephone (02) 9900 0650 or email code@mtaa.org.au
In vitro diagnostics IVD Australia IVD Australia: Code of Conduct telephone (02) 8007 6632 or email info@ivd.org.au
Dental products (Medical Devices) Australian Dental Industry Association www.adia.org.au/membership/code telephone 1300 943 094

The ASMI Complaints Process

The ASMI complaints handling procedure is a self-regulatory mechanism applying to ASMI Member companies and any other party who agrees to participate in the process. It deals with complaints about advertisements directed to healthcare professionals, and complaints about advertising to consumers in below-the-line media i.e. all media other than "specified media". This procedure is outlined in ASMI's Code of Practice.

Please contact Steve Scarff at ASMI via email or tel 02 9922 5111 for additional information regarding complaint procedures.