‘Errant products’: TGA fines Caruso, Juice Plus, and bars HK weight loss capsules from entering

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recently flagged out a number of supplements that breached claims, advertising, or ingredients requirements. ©Getty Images
Australia's Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) recently flagged out a number of supplements that breached claims, advertising, or ingredients requirements. ©Getty Images

Related tags: Australia, Hong kong, TGA

Australia’s health foods brands Caruso Natural Health and Juice Plus were recently fined for false claims and advertising breaches respectively, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced in a statement.

A Hong Kong weight loss brand, the Bling Bling Sister Superman capsules, was also brought to the regulator’s attention for containing two undeclared substances.

They are sibutramine, which has been withdrawn from the Australian market for causing risk of cardiac problems, as well as orlistat - a pharmacist-only medicine in Australia. 

TGA said it was working with the Australian Border Force (ABF) to stop shipments of the products from entering the country.

In the case of Caruso’s Natural Health, the company paid penalties of AUD$12,600 (USD$8,229) for “making a false or misleading certification that it held evidence”​ for its Caruso’s Kids Eye Care product.

The case was brought to light during TGA’s post-market compliance reviews.

According to the TGA statement, the company claimed evidence for four health claims, namely 1) reduces free radicals formed in the body, 2) helps reduce/decrease free radical damage to body cells, 3) helps maintain/support eye macula health, and 4) helps maintain/support eye retinal health.

As for direct selling firm The Juice Plus Company Australia, it paid penalties of AUD$37,800 (USD$24,689) for advertising its vitamins for a condition which was unpermitted. It also recruited health professionals in endorsing the products.   

Claims relating to coronavirus

The TGA also warned firms to be mindful when making therapeutic claims, such as increasing immunity against coronavirus, related to the novel coronavirus COVID-19.  

Australia reported its first case of local transmission involving two siblings in the New South Wales on March 2. 

It said it has identified certain complementary medicines or disinfectants that were inappropriately promoted for the prevention or treatment of the coronavirus.

“The advertising of therapeutic goods to consumers in Australia is subject to legislative requirements administered by the TGA.

“The promotion of therapeutic goods to consumers for the prevention or treatment of novel coronavirus is likely to contravene the legislative requirements for a range of reasons, including unsupported claims or making a restricted representation,” ​it said.

It added that any therapeutic claim made in relation to the coronavirus “must be supported by appropriate evidence and must not mislead.”

This is in contrast to the stance by India’s Ministry of AYUSH, which claimed that coronavirus infections could be prevented from traditional medicines such as Ayurveda and Unani.

It subsequently faced a backlash​ from the public and scientific community for issuing an advisory that was not based on scientific studies or clinical trials.

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