Weight loss or loss of trust?

Last week the Age reported that the ACCC had successfully had the assets of diet pill manufacturer SensaSlim frozen. The Age reports a number of worrying irregularities in the way Sensaslim goes about its business:

it emerged that the research used as the basis for the product’s marketing appears to have been fabricated.

CFA member Choice has more background on this battle. Consumer champion Dr Ken Harvey faces the unwelcome prospect of  court action for defamation by Sensaslim. But does Sensaslim really care about what Dr Harvey said? Or is  Sensaslim using the legal action to work the system. While the court matter is underway the Complaints Resolution Panel responsible for over the counter medicines cannot consider a complaint! An already weak complaints handling body is effectively put on the sidelines for several years while the  defamation proceedings  are sorted out. Or not – the longer they go on the longer the company avoids the complaint being considered.

But weight loss pills are not the only problematic medicine. Unfortunately the system for handling complaints about medicines in Australia is very poor; slow, under-resourced and dominated by the medicines industry. Further, as Choice’s 2008 report on consumer regulators implies, the Therapeutic Goods Administration is one of the weakest consumer regulators, in the way it is designed, its resourcing (much of which is provided through an agreement with the medicines industry) and its record in handling, or not handling, consumer problems.

It’s time action was taken to fix the complaints handling systems for over the counter medicines and prescription medicines, and its time the TGA was given some backbone and the resources to do its job.

What do you think?

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