The stimulus for this article came from the new labels that were proposed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration and how much these supplements we take actually do for us. These new labels are aimed to separate the good from the bad, with the bad representing the pills that do very little for us and waste our money.
Our greatest hope is that the new system helps people across Australia save money by being better educated with more accurate labels on supplement bottles. The proposed changes not only offer the potential to save Australian millions of dollars, it will make our country a world leader in complementary medicine regulations.
The first change that was proposed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is to provide a stamp of approval on the packaging and on any promotional material too. Items such as vitamins, minerals, herbs and other supplements will have to provide enough evidence to back their health claims.
The TGA have also proposed to reduce the number of unsubstantiated claims that supplement manufacturers can make on their application form, which will reduce the amount of false advertising claims leaking through too.
It’s not all bad though because the TGA has also put into action some incentives for manufacturers who come up with new active ingredients or who make claims based on factual research. All of these proposed changes are out for public consultation on 28th March, following the recent ABC Four Corners program that highlighted the long standing problems with the complementary medicines market.
What we like is that the TGA’s proposal is that it encourages innovation within companies, because they may now need to seek the TGA ‘stamp of approval’. Although, what we don’t like is that the proposed changes still do not address the need for greater transparency in the regulatory process. For instance, it is still not clear whether the TGA’s assessment of evidence to higher-level health claims will be made publically available like they are for prescription medicines.
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It’s not unheard of that the supplements industry is somewhat of a farce, so much so that health professionals have lost confidence in the industries ability to regulate its own advertisements. The TGA has also lost credibility due to not applying adequate sanctions when companies break the rules.
Secondly, there is very little incentive for manufacturers to research new innovative products, or prove existing ones work. This is a huge problem for us at Buckscoop, because it means we have no real understanding about the value for money you receive when buying supplement medicines. Our greatest hope is that these changes help all of us save money on supplements. Below are a few helpful articles:
There are 11,000 listed complimentary medicines on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. All other medicines are meant to contain pre-approved, relatively low-risk ingredients, produced with good manufacturer practice, yet the TGA fails to check before these products (based on high levels of complaints) are marketed, meaning you could be consuming an expensive placebo.
Now consider this, there are only 35 registered complementary medicines on the TGA, which they claim have been thoroughly tested and assessed for safety. The reason this list is so small is due to the high expense for meeting registration requirements. Manufacturers see a better return on investment from celebrity endorsements and promo hype, rather than giving the customer good value for money.