How Being a Drug Trial Guinea Pig Changed My Life – Part 6, enter the TGA

The TGA, or Therapeutic Goods Administration, is essentially, the Australian version of the FDA. According to their website “The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is part of the Australian Government Department of Health and is responsible for regulating therapeutic goods …”. The TGA was established under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 and is, purportedly, “to provide for the establishment and maintenance of a national system of controls relating to the quality, safety, timely availability and, where necessary, efficacy, of therapeutic goods”. tga.gov.au

If you ask me what TGA is I will tell you it’s the spokesperson and decision-making body for the pharmaceutical industry. My experience, and the experience of many other natural therapists and natural product businesses, is that their focus is to crush natural health options and any small business or person who promotes them. And let me say they are very good at it!

If you ask me more about what I have learnt in my 17 year history of dealing with them, I’ll tell you that “they do not care if pharmaceutical medicines are safe and really don’t want to know if they are not safe”. Why do I believe this? Remember my recent five-part story about being a drug trial guinea pig? Well, at one point in 2018, many of those veterans who had taken tafenoquine lodged adverse reaction forms with the TGA when it came out that the drug was in the final stages of approval. We didn’t want this dangerous drug prescribed to others especially not after the long- and short-term damage it did to us. What happened you ask? Did they ask us for more information? Did they quiz us about our reactions? Did they care enough to stop the approval process to follow up? Nope. Nothing. The drug cleared the final hurdles in record time and was approved to be prescribed to the general public.

See the Mayo Clinic List of possible reactions here: https://www.facebook.com/ToniIMOPTownsville/photos/a.111912484004436/115384013657283/?type=3&theater

This wasn’t my first interaction with the TGA. In 2012, my small business was confronted by them for selling the Elaine Hollingsworth DVD “One Answer to Cancer”. Now this DVD is not illegal, not then and not now, in fact you can buy it online very easily. During that initial phone call, they told me point blank that it was illegal to sell. I questioned this and requested that they put that in writing so I could refer it to my solicitor for guidance. No letter or email was ever received.

Fast forward a few months and I was on my way to Philip Island for the 60th anniversary of the Grand Prix, trekking on our Harleys from Townsville, passing through Bathurst (and of course stopping for the race – the 50th anniversary). By the time we had reached Tamworth, I had my staff on the phone advising that the Queensland Department of Health inspectors were in my store, lots of them. Did they know I was not going to be there or was it just sheer luck? They trawled through every product in my shop, scrutinised absolutely everything whilst my stressed and terrified staff stood by not sure what they should do. They spent two hours in my store interrupting customer service and questioning staff as if they were criminals.

By the time we reached Philip Island the TGA had sent me an official letter with a list of products that had to be immediately taken off the shelf and relabelled before they could be sold. Incidentally, these products, or ingredients I should say, were all referenced in that DVD. This was just the first of what was to become a cycle of continued harassment and inspections trying to find the tiniest breach.

Why? The DVD, One Answer to Cancer, of course. All this to stop a DVD that was legal to be sold.

The Queensland Health Department had no issue with the DVD but the TGA still did. Other organisations such as the AVN have also been viciously attacked over this very product.

You can look that DVD up on YouTube should you want to know more. Legally I am not allowed to even discuss what the video is about.

The last campaign of persecution started a mere two years ago and was more brutal and nastier than ever before. Discussions on natural therapy forums identified many other similar businesses were also receiving the same steamroller assault by TGA officers. Forget about coming in via the back door and getting state health departments to do their dirty work this was a full-frontal attack by the TGA themselves. In order to avoid prosecution, an extremely large fine and the possibility of having my business shut down I was forced to strip back my business website to bare bones deleting any mention of traditional use and information for herbs and essential oils. I was ordered to change the names of certain products such as our very popular “sleep essential oil blend”. This was a common product name, used by many other essential oil businesses, none of which were TGA registered yet I was the only one made to change that name. So many other petty edits to my website, changes to my products and business continued for three months straight until they nearly shut me down and had me in a straitjacket. Even verified customer reviews had to be removed.

What made the attack stop? I agreed to stop selling the DVD “One Answer to Cancer”.

As I said, you can still buy it in many places just not from me. Good thing we have the TGA to protect us, hey? I have since built my business back up after the attack but I await the next confrontation because it’s not a case of if but of when.

The use of plants and their derivatives was historically one of the original forms of medicine, prior to the 1880’s, that alchemists and apothecaries transformed into what became patentable pharmaceuticals. These days the government doesn’t want you to have health freedoms, access to or information about the use of herbs, essential oils or centuries-old forms of therapy in case you stumble across the fact that there could be better ways of treating your health. These days the government is run by politicians that often hold big shares in pharmaceutical companies, are promised cushy jobs on retirement and/or receive large campaign donations that help keep them in power so will happily ensure that natural therapies are squashed. The Sickness Industry is very important to the government and they go to great lengths to ensure that it remains powerful in order to keep those dollars rolling in. Why else would both major parties place an embryonic political party last on their ballot papers?

These days I teach classes at my store about how to use essential oils and herbs safely and how to make your own remedies for internal and external use. I love teaching these classes and seeing the participants realise they can take control of their health and not be beholden to big pharma for the rest of their lives. Interestingly I have many health care workers attend these courses seeking options to get off the mouse wheel. I wonder how long I will be allowed to continue teaching these classes?

IMOP is committed to ensuring that every Australian citizen has the freedom to choose traditional and natural therapies, easy access to the information that they need to make these informed decisions and that medical practitioners are able to treat patients holistically, and prescribe natural therapies, in instances where they believe it would benefit the patient without fear of being deregistered.

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