On 19 July, Hubertus Jersmann (who had requested the meeting) and Paul Rolan met Mark Butler MP, Federal Minister for Health, in Adelaide. Paulina Stehlik was present via weblink, as was one of the Minister’s policy advisors.
The Minister had read the briefing document and made notes during the meeting. He mentioned positively that he had had many previous interactions with Ken Harvey AO (immediate Past President FSM). He understood our key issues: misleading promotion and inadequate enforcement. He asked for, and we gave him, examples, including Professor Jersmann’s re lung cancer treatment and Dr Stehlik’s regarding new parents. The Minister appreciated the issues. He feared that things might be worse than ever because of social media. It was recognised that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) faced big challenges with COVID-19; but, with a new head, there are opportunities to do new things.
He asked whether we thought that new legislative tools were needed. We said that the appropriate tools were available but were not being enforced. He asked whether this was lack of capacity or lack of will. We responded “both”. The Minister seemed to like the compulsory Federal Drugs Administration (USA) warning “This product is not intended to diagnose treat or cure any disease”. He warmed towards a ‘Compliance Unit’ within the TGA – purpose-built to monitor and reinforce compliance. He said that he would consider these matters and get back to us.
You can read and download FSM’s briefing document below: