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A brief history of the TGACC

In Australia all advertisements and generic information provided about Therapeutic Goods directed to the public must comply with provisions of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 and Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990 and the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code (TGAC).

The history of the advertising Code goes back almost 40 years. The Code was originally developed by the first TGACC which had been established in the 1970s' by the Media Council of Australia (MCA). The MCA administered the operation of the TGACC as well as the revision and maintenance of the Code. The Code was authorized by the Trade Practices Tribunal during 1988 and gained a degree of legal underpinning in February 1991 when parts of it were picked up in the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989.

The MCA advised the Australian Competition and Consumer Council (ACCC) in September 1996 that it would cease operation at the end of that year. This left the Code Council and the Code orphaned.

Following the demise of the MCA scheme, two key industry associations, the Proprietary Medicines Association of Australia (now the Australian Self-Medication Industry) and the Nutritional Foods Association of Australia (now the Complementary Healthcare Council), formed a collegiate with a view to taking over the administration of the Code Council and getting authorization of the Code by the ACCC.

However, this arrangement would have applied only to members of the two associations and not to all advertisers of therapeutic goods. As a result, the Collegiate embarked on a different route that would provide a system applicable to all.

This was achieved through a range of amendments (Amendment 400) to the Therapeutic Goods Act and Regulations in December 1997. Amendment 400 provided for the establishment of a Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code Council, a Complaints Resolution Panel and the formal approval of mainstream print advertisements for therapeutic goods.

A major review of all advertising arrangements in 1999 resulted in the development of a principles-based code and the expansion of the approval and complaints processes to include other forms of therapeutic goods advertising. Generic information about therapeutic goods is included.

Code Council's key responsibilities are to:

• ensure that the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code is current, relevant and reflects community values and standards (the Code is discussed in more detail below);

• ensure a level playing field for all advertisers; and

• make recommendations to the Minister about:

• uniform standards in approval processes and advertising;
• appeals about approvals decisions;
• submissions for exemption to use restricted representations
• the application of public interest criteria; and
• policy advice.

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