Complaints can currently be considered by the Complaints Resolution Panel (CRP), multiple industry associations and the TGA, depending on the type of product and the medium in which the advertisement appears.
However, this system has been deemed too complex for consumers and businesses to navigate, and according to the TGA, it often does not deliver timely or consistent decisions.
The change follows the federal government's acceptance of the advertising-related recommendations of the Expert Panel Review of Medicines and Medical Devices Regulation, and public consultations on improvements to the advertising framework.
TGA will take on the role of the single body responsible for handling advertising complaints from July 1 2018. This reform will be externally reviewed after three years to confirm that it is delivering the intended benefits and meeting community expectations.
Industry trade body Complementary Medicines Australia (CMA) welcomed the abolition of the CRP.
CMA chief executive Carl Gibson told us: “CRP lacked the ability to ensure compliance, and I have previously described its rulings as having the same impact as being slapped around the head with a feather duster.”
CMA had lobbied for a single-body system but wanted it to come under a third party, such as the Advertising Standards Bureau.
Gibson added: “We want to see a complaints system that is fit for purpose, that can manage complaints in a timely manner, where issues of quality and safety are prioritised. We want to ensure that it has sanctions and penalties to deter those who mislead or make false claims in advertising. We fully support a complaints system run by a body with a track record, such as the Advertising Standards Bureau.”
The TGA said it will release more information on the new system soon, but it appears it will come solely under its remit.
“The simplified and improved advertising complaints arrangements will benefit advertisers, health professionals and consumers by providing, through the TGA, a single body for lodging, handling and reporting on the final outcome of their complaint. This approach will help deliver consistent decision-making, compliance and enforcement,” it stated.
In terms of products marketed to practitioners only, which currently come under a self-regulatory system overseen by CMA, there will be a further consultation in August.