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 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 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).
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 what type of product the advertisement or conduct relates to referring to the general grouping of products listed above. Your complaint can be directed to the relevant industry associations 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.
Below the Line Advertising
The CHC has established a self-regulatory process for the complementary healthcare industry. Its focal point is its Code of Practice for the Marketing of Complementary Healthcare and Healthfood Products which seeks to self regulate the marketplace by encouraging compliance with relevant Commonwealth and State legislation. The major objective of the CHC's complaint handling mechanism is to resolve advertising problems identified in the marketplace in relation to CHP’s both therapeutic goods and others such as foods.
The CHC's self-regulatory mechanism is supported by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
The Complaints Resolution Committee (CRC), established under the CHC's Code of Practice, considers complaints about alleged breaches of the CHC Code including about non-mainstream or non-specified media advertisements for CHPs that are therapeutic goods i.e in brochures, leaflets, flyers, website and internet, shelf talkers, newsletters, point of sale material, videos, audio tapes and catalogues, as well as any magazines or journals that are not mainstream media.
Where to Complain
Complaints should be directed to:
Complaints Resolution Committee (CRC)
PO Box 450
Mawson ACT 2607
Phone: 02 62604022
Fax : 02 62604122
Complaint Submission Form
Where breaches occur, the CRC may request withdrawal and destruction of the offending material, that future distribution is ceased, that material be amended at the next print run, that web sites be amended, and in some cases to have future advertising material pre-cleared..
In cases of repeat offenders, the CRC may refer the matter to the TGA or ACCC, as appropriate.
Any party dissatisfied with a CRC decision may appeal. The appeal request must be placed in writing within 14 days of formal notification of the decision. The appeal is considered by the Board, under provisions set out in the CHC Code of Practice.
Appeal Application Form
Latest determinations from the complaints resolution panel
Quick guide on how to make a complaint
Quick guide on how to respond to a complaint