SensaSlim Shonky Shows Up TGA

By now you most probably know that SensaSlim won the Choice Shonky for “making snake oil look good”. Or rather, “SensaSlim (and friends)”.

Delightfully the TGA receive an honorary Shonky for their mind blowing apathy and inbred inability to delist the rubbish. Choice report:

The TGA, who deserve an honorary Shonky for their role in this, have had ample reason and opportunity to delist the product, ensuring it can no longer be sold in Australia, but have declined to do so. Even after the TGA’s advertising Complaints Resolution Panel recommended its delisting due to non-compliance with regulations, they have sat tight and done nothing.

Of course the TGA who can, according to the TGA simply do no wrong, rejected this award in the same hilarious manner they reject any responsibility for regular TGA failures. Reported in The Australian, “Unproven slimming spray wins a shonky”:

The TGA revoked Sensaslim’s approval to make such claims, but it has not delisted the product for sale, as suggested by its panel, earning it an “honorary Shonky”. A spokesperson says the Shonky is unwarranted: “The TGA continues to take regulatory action against SensaSlim Solutions to remove it from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.”

The spray continues to be sold by several Australian internet pharmacies. This prompted [Ken] Harvey to write to the Pharmacy Board of Australia this week, alerting it to possible “breaches by pharmacists” of legislation prohibiting them from misleading advertising.

Which is exactly why the spray should have already been delisted. People are still being ripped off. More on the failing effectiveness if not relevance of the TGA can be read here at Australian Skeptics.

Just recently on October 27th the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King, hinted at regulatory change. Speaking at the Complementary Healthcare Council of Australia’s (CHC) National Conference King agreed that the Auditor General’s report into the TGA this year highlighted concerns. Pharmacy Daily report:

These issues, including poor compliance rates, resulted in recommendations for improving the process of regulation for complementary medicines and the handling of advertising complaints. Specific recommendations listed in the report, including: the timely completion by TGA of key guidance material for complementary medicines; improving the integrity of the self-assessment process for listing complementary therapies whilst limiting the use of inappropriate claims and indications, have been accepted by the TGA and are now in the planning stages for implementation.

King also said planning is now occurring for further report recommendations including making information available to the public on each listed complementary medication; improving the quality of the regulatory framework through the use of risk profiles; and the development of documented procedures for handling advertising complaints including timelines for completing investigations.

An informal working group had also identified that the current system doesn’t “sufficiently encourage compliance”. Indeed. It cannot be understated how appalling the TGA behaved in setting in train some of it’s regulatory powers, such as seeking original and stated evidence from sponsors of ARTG products, only upon discovering the Auditor General was to investigate. Put simply, the TGA can at any time ask for the evidence of any ARTG listed “alternative to medicine” product and act accordingly. Put rather more simply, they don’t.

Despite having several months to discern whether SensaSlim (and a plethora of other scam products) meet requirements Pharmacy News reported last week on the TGA dodging any criticism surrounding Sensaslim. Not happy about it’s honorary Shonky for apathy in the face of urgency, it was noted that:

… a TGA spokesperson insisted it was reviewing whether the product met the requirements for listing on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). “It is nonsense to say that the TGA has taken no action in relation to SensaSlim,” the spokesperson said. “The TGA continues to take regulatory action against SensaSlim Solutions to remove it from the ARTG.

As for the SensaSlim Scam itself, well the European and American markets – always the primary target – are now copping it. The same flashy websites once active in Australia, with exactly the same claims are misleading consumers on those continents. The UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency cannot act to have the misleading advertising removed unless:

  • The site is hosted in the UK
  • The profits are banked in the UK
  • The product is distributed from the UK
  • And is a medicinal product

Profits from sales of SensaSlim go via PayPal into the bank account of Peter Foster’s QLD girlfriend Liana Emberg. Liana is understandably keeping quiet. Emberg was one of seven SensaSlim scam scally wags who had their bank accounts frozen by the ACCC.

Somehow I doubt poor Liana is losing out.

Check out all 2011 Shonky Awards here (SensaSlim 2:40)

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About @advodiaboli
I'm not really a cast iron flying pig.

4 Responses to SensaSlim Shonky Shows Up TGA

  1. andy says:

    Okay, look, I’m sure I won’t say this very often… but… Meryl Dorey might be right.

    Maybe the TGA really does have a vested interest in not pursuing promoters of rogue products – but not just genuine pharmaceuticals, as Meryl would point to, but the vast array of non-medicinals listed with the TGA after the appropriate fees are paid. Where’s the incentive for the TGA to de-list? It would surely be bad for business.

    Now, do I need to fashion a tinfoil hat and look for the TRUTH about the moon landing – or is it possible the TGA really are completely useless for anything but “managing” an entirely pointless system?

    • Admin says:

      I wouldn’t make a hat just yet Andy.

      There’s definitely a disincentive to cause trouble in that the TGA relies upon donations and fees from CAM manufacturers. Without an independent funding source this must be a problem.

      Although with these “listed” products there’s far less incentive to act because unlike “regulated” products, risk of harm is minimal at most. This is seen splendidly in that the ELF regulatory system software has no capacity for retroactively editing claims made at time of registration, later shown to be untrue.

      Nor does the TGA manually edit entries – though this may change. Herbal teas – like primrose and lavender – now known to do nothing are still marketed with the same claims. Glucosamine is another prime example. And many others…

      So you can end up with a product that may interact with real meds not doing what it claims to and increasing in price, whilst consumers delay seeking better options.

      However, with regulated products if later data shows dramas then action is pretty swift and complete as in removal from market. Although the problem with influencing prescription volume due to competition is always present, doctors and such do a good job of monitoring their own ethical conduct.

      So if Meryl was really honest she’d admit the alternative to conventional medicine was risk free thus ineffective. She does continue to wail about Vioxx as if it’s standard for all meds.

      Still, the deplorable conduct of CSL with the flu vaccine manufacturing process (GMS code) was missed by a mile thanks to TGA practices. Only when the CDC came knocking did TGA release statements.

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