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Unlawful advertising of medicinal cannabis


The Therapeutic Goods Administration has commenced proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against CDA Clinics QLD Pty Ltd and its former director, Dr Benjamin Jansen, for alleged unlawful advertising of medicinal cannabis on its website and social media page.

It is alleged that the company’s website, CDA Express, enabled patients to purchase prescription-only medicines containing cannabidiol (CBD) after completing a ‘virtual consultation’ process involving an online questionnaire.

The TGA alleges that the advertising on the CDA Express website and social media page was unlawful because medicinal cannabis products are prescription-only medicines that cannot be advertised directly to consumers under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act).

The company allegedly promoted the use of CBD for the treatment of serious diseases, conditions and disorders. Such references are known as restricted representations or prohibited representations and are not allowed to be included in advertising for therapeutic goods unless an approval or permission is given by the TGA.

The products that were allegedly advertised were also not entered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). It is unlawful to advertise therapeutic goods that are not entered on the ARTG to the public, unless specifically exempt.

Despite being warned by the TGA about its alleged non-compliant advertising, the company continued to advertise the products for several months.

Advertising prescription-only medicines directly to consumers could create an inappropriate demand for these medicines and lead to unnecessary or harmful prescribing. Appropriate treatment options should be determined by a health professional in consultation with their patient, rather than through online eligibility questionnaires.

The TGA reminds businesses that unlawful advertising of medicinal cannabis products is a breach of the Act for which serious penalties can apply, including fines, or civil or criminal court action.

The TGA, as a priority, is taking strong enforcement action to deter and disrupt unlawful advertising of medicinal cannabis.


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