Chinese Medicine Board of Australia - Board publishes position statement on advertising
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Board publishes position statement on advertising

20 Jul 2017

The Board has published a position statement on advertising due to concern about an increase in Chinese medicine advertising complaints.

The Chinese Medicine Board of Australia’s (the Board) Position statement on Chinese medicine practitioners making therapeutic claims in advertising has been developed to provide clear advice to both practitioners and the public.

It can be read in full in the Position statements section of the Board’s website.

Board Chair, Professor Charlie Xue, said Chinese medicine practitioners should not include any therapeutic claims about the treatment of health conditions in their advertising that could not be substantiated with acceptable and up-to-date evidence.

‘If a practitioner decides to do this, and intentionally or inadvertently breaches the National Law , they will be asked to provide acceptable evidence as expected by the public to justify the claims,’ he said.

Advertisers must ensure that any statements and claims made about Chinese medicine practice are not false, misleading or deceptive or create an unreasonable expectation of benefits from such services.

The National Law’s advertising requirements apply to any forms of advertising of regulated health services to the public, including electronically or in print. These requirements also include a prohibition on using testimonials about clinical care and restrictions on the use of the word ‘specialist’ in advertising.

‘Practitioners should make sure they understand all the advertising requirements to ensure responsible advertising,’ Professor Xue said.

‘This is important because advertising is normally limited in details which means claims made can sometimes be misleading or misunderstood.

‘This is different to a clinical consultation when a patient can ask the practitioner for clarification about the services they offer and the expected benefits.’

Because of this difference, a higher standard of evidence is required to support claims made in advertising regulated health services.

While traditional use evidence forms part of the clinical evidence for Chinese medicine practice, it is not of the high standards required for public advertising. Therefore, this form of evidence used alone is not sufficient to ensure the accuracy needed for public advertising where the information is provided without any involvement of the expertise of the practitioner.

‘The Board is working with AHPRA to create helpful resources specifically for Chinese medicine practitioners and will publish these in August,’ Professor Xue said.

‘In the interim, practitioners should read the Board’s position statement along with the non-compliant advertising examples common to all regulated health professions and the other resources available on the AHPRA website,’ he said.

For more information

  • The AHPRA website Advertising resources section where you will find:
    • A summary of advertising obligations
    • The Guidelines for advertising regulated health services which apply to all registered health practitioners and anyone advertising a regulated health service
    • The process for managing complaints
    • Examples of advertising claims that don’t meet legal requirements
  • The Code of conduct for Chinese medicine practitioners
  • For media enquiries, call (03) 8708 9200

1The Health Practitioner Regulation National Law, as in force in each state and territory (the National Law)

Page reviewed 20/07/2017