MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

As so often in the realm of so-called alternative medicine (SCAM), the Australians are setting an example. The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) is the national organisation responsible for implementing the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme (the National Scheme) across Australia. Yesterday, the Ahpra have issued an important press-release. Here is an excerpt:

… While the vast majority of health practitioners are responding professionally to the COVID-19 emergency and focusing on providing safe care, Ahpra and National Boards are seeing some examples of false and misleading advertising on COVID-19.

During these challenging times, it is vital that health practitioners only provide information about COVID-19 that is scientifically accurate and from authoritative sources, such as a state, territory or Commonwealth health department or the World Health Organization (WHO). According to these authoritative sources, there is currently no cure or evidence-based treatment or therapy which prevents infection by COVID-19 and work is currently underway on a vaccine.

Other than sharing health information from authoritative sources, registered health practitioners should not make advertising claims on preventing or protecting patients and health consumers from contracting COVID-19 or accelerating recovery from COVID-19. To do so involves risk to public safety and may be unlawful advertising. For example, we are seeing some advertising claims that spinal adjustment/manipulation, acupuncture and some products confer or boost immunity or enhance recovery from COVID-19 when there is no acceptable evidence in support.

Advertisers must be able to provide acceptable evidence of any claims made about treatments that benefit patients/health consumers. We will consider taking action against anyone found to be making false or misleading claims about COVID-19 in advertising. If the advertiser is a registered health practitioner, breaching advertising obligations is also a professional conduct matter which may result in disciplinary action, especially where advertising is clearly false, misleading or exploitative. There are also significant penalties for false and misleading advertising claims about therapeutic products under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.

Patients and health consumers should treat any advertising claims about COVID-19 cautiously and check authoritative sources for health information about COVID-19, such as state, territory and Commonwealth health departments.

As always, patients and health consumers should ask their practitioner for information to support any advertising claims before making decisions about treatment. Patients and health consumers should receive accurate and truthful messages so they can make the right choices about their health.

Many of my posts during the last weeks have dealt with this problem. The sad truth is that charlatans of all types are trying to exploit the fear of consumers during the current crisis for making a fast buck. This is despicable, unethical, unprofessional and possibly criminal.I do hope that the authorities of other countries follow the Australian example.

18 Responses to “We will consider taking action against anyone … making false or misleading claims about COVID-19 …”

  • Presumably infringements are punishable by the same penalty (six month’s imprisonment) that Australia is imposing on anybody caught sitting on a park bench.

    I also see that they are denying medical care to coronavirus cases on cruise ships docked in Australian ports in case they use resources that might be needed by Australians. I am sure that they still expect Australians abroad to be offered treatment if they need it, however.

    • where is the evidence for these statement?
      what have they to do with the Ahpra initiative?

      • I read about both of these on the BBC news Web site this morning.

        You are right that they aren’t really relevant to your post. I was struck by the rather inconsistent and heavy-handed approach that the Australian Government are applying during this crisis. Please accept my apologies.

        • no worries, mate!

          • I am conscious that these times are bringing out the best in humanity but also in some cases the worst.

            You two (EE and JMK) have always posted fairly and objectively and I am a big admirer of your work and your views.

            Wish you both well in these difficult times .

  • Admirable, it is at such times the weak, the frightened and the ill are at their most vulnerable. Here, it seems, we are content to abandon such people to the untrustworthy, the panic mongering and the scammers.

  • Gosh, I am so glad the Thought Police are gearing up. The WHO would never lie to us! Oh, sorry, here they are caught in the act. You can hear it in the actual words of their own scientists when they are not in the public eye.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=82KJGSLT2e4

    • only a complete idiot would call this the ‘thought police’ or try to connect it to the WHO.

      • On behalf of the league of certified idiots, for whom I can have guarded respect, I take the strongest offence against using their hallmark in reference to an homeopathy apologist who cites the infamous antivaccinationist Dell Bigtree.

    • Ah yes. The halfwitted liar Del Bigtree who is happy to take edited quotes and place them out of context because he imagines it proves his delusional antivax twaddle.

      Run along now, Roger. There’s a global crisis going on and the grownups have got to deal with it.

  • It is likely that some of these folks actually believe what they are offering will help. It’s not always about making a fast buck.

    • charlatans who believe in their charlatanry are all the more dangerous

      • Not the point.

        You wrote

        “The sad truth is that charlatans of all types are trying to exploit the fear of consumers during the current crisis for making a fast buck.”

        Some do, some don’t. Some do it out of a belief that their therapy will help.

        Charaltan…a person who pretends to have skills or knowledge that they do not have, especially in medicine. (Cambridge)

        Now a fraudster, yes. they are after the “fast buck”

        …someone who gets money by deceiving people (Cambridge)

        • charlatans who believe in their charlatanry are all the more dangerous

        • @DC
          obviously you’ve never heard of Dunning Kruger – idiots who don’t realize they’re idiots but think they’re geniuses are the most dangerous

          a la very stable genius Donald Trump who thinks he’s inherited the PhD of his uncle at MIT and that he really really gets all this Coronavirus stuff better that all these doctors – when your so stooooopid that you don’t even know your stooooopid you can be really really dangerous.

          And that’s the way you come across DC with your repeated attempts to make apologies for SCAM that always miss the mark – and apologising for Bigtree – that’s a real lemon cos he’s another dangerous idiot who causes real harm. It doesn’t matter whether he believes the stupid things he preaches or not – he’s WRONG and he harms people a lot so he should STOP. There no excuse for making excuses for him.

          So what’s your excuse?

  • @MH: indeed!! ???

    • @mike harrison

      You suffer from DK effect yourself if you think that the leader of the free world, and the most powerful economic country in the world need be concerned with how to battle the virus…. only.

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