The national regulator for therapeutic goods is under fire for rejecting calls to extend consultation on proposed reforms that major supplement retailers fear will devastate their $1.1 Billion industry.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration revealed it would not be bowing to public pressure – less than 24 hours after concerned retailers and athletes launched their national Save Aussie Supplements campaign.
Representatives from two of the nation’s leading supplement retailers, Nutrition Warehouse and Australian Sports Nutrition – who took part in yesterday’s launch – said they were “extremely disappointed” the TGA had chosen to ignore the industry’s campaign, which had already attracted thousands of pledges of support from around the country.
“Some retailers weren’t even aware of these proposed changes until a few days ago, with the TGA only calling for submissions late last month,” Nutrition Warehouse General Manager Tony Shaw said.
“There is a very tight turnaround for consultation, with submissions to close at 5pm on Tuesday, December 3.
“The industry needs enough time to argue its case, but just a few hours after the Save Aussie Supplements campaign was launched, the TGA told media: “.. there is no intention for the consultation period to be extended’.
“While this is extremely disappointing, we won’t be deterred – the industry is determined to forge ahead with this campaign because so much is at stake for so many people.”
The industry fears the TGA’s proposed reforms could cost the sector hundreds of millions of dollars, thousands of jobs, and severely restrict the choice of consumers. There are concerns the changes will result in an unprecedented economic impact, with 70,000 products potentially being reclassified as medicine, forcing them to be removed from Australian shelves.
Nutrition Warehouse alone fears 80 of its stores nationally could be forced to shut, costing 300 jobs.
“The industry agrees with any moves that could make our already heavily-regulated sector even safer, but the TGA and the Federal Government must work closely with stakeholders,” Mr Shaw said.
The TGA review follows concerns over two deaths: a consumer using a pure caffeine powder, and another with an underlying renal protein condition who used a protein powder.
If the TGA’s proposals are accepted, changes could be introduced that have the potential to restrict the supply and advertisement of supplements manufactured and sold within Australia.
There are fears that with so many products likely to be impacted, it could take years for the TGA to register supplements as therapeutic goods.
Australian Sports Nutrition General Manager Sarah West said: “We believe this TGA proposal could greatly reduce the Australian supplement market and therefore consumers’ freedom of choice, forcing them to import their supplements from unregulated overseas providers, decreasing safety – which is what the TGA is ultimately trying to improve.
“The TGA must consult extensively with stakeholders including the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ), distributors of finished goods and raw materials, regulatory affairs consultants, universities conducting trials, agricultural industry and the CMA.
“A regulatory and economic impact statement must be created before an approved collaborative strategy can be implemented,” she said.
Supplements likely to be impacted:
- All Australian-made supplemental foods in powder, liquid, capsule, tablet or pill
- Sports supplements – Fat loss; Muscle gain; Pre-workout; Post-workout; Mental performance; Stamina; Hormones
- Herbal products:
- Gut health products
- Sleep aids
- Plant based nutrients and vitamin blends
- Super foods – apple cider vinegar, herbals, fruit powders, dolomite, clay
- Encapsulated – fibre, superfoods, spirulina, apple cider vinegar, herbal teas, chia seeds, plant oils
- Functional foods – fermented, plant based