The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (Ahpra) are investigating sections of the wellness industry over concerns unproven intravenous infusion treatments may be being marketed inappropriately.
Advertisers of IV infusions commonly claim that general improvements in health, ‘wellness’ or appearance are attainable even where there is no diagnosed clinical need for the relevant compound.
Many advertisers quote their patients as feeling or looking better after an infusion. Ahpra believes that there is little or no accepted evidence to support such generalised claims and they are, therefore, misleading and in breach of National Law.
According to Ahpra, anecdotal evidence is not acceptable evidence to substantiate claims about the potential benefits of health services. This type of advertising can encourage indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services.
‘IV infusion treatments are increasingly being offered across Australia, however, the medical justification and scientific evidence for them has not kept pace with their marketing,’ Ahpra CEO Martin Fletcher said.
‘Clinics charging hundreds of dollars for cocktails promising everything from boosting immunity, clearer thinking, beauty, and even anti-ageing, need to be honest with their clients about the lack of scientific evidence supporting their infusion services.
‘Patients also need to be aware of infection and other risks which come with all medical treatments, and which is why clinical interventions should only be provided when they are necessary.’
Ahpra has written to several businesses warning that their advertising of IV infusion treatments may breach the National Law, which prohibits material that makes misleading or unfounded claims.
Under Australia’s National Law, anyone advertising a regulated health service must ensure their advertising does not include false, misleading or deceptive information, does not use testimonials, and does not create an unreasonable expectation of beneficial treatment.
The legislation, enforced by Ahpra and the National Boards, also outlaws advertising encouraging the indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services.
Further, drugs and poisons legislation in each state and territory impose restrictions on possessing, using, obtaining, selling, storing, prescribing, administering and supplying scheduled medicines. Infusions containing Schedule 4 drugs, such as glutathione, are subject to these additional restrictions.
As well as advertising standards, registered practitioners who provide IV infusion services may face additional investigation by the regulator to ensure they uphold a range of professional standards and obligations in their code of conduct.
Any unregistered person found to be claiming to be qualified to practise as a medical practitioner or nurse may also be subject to criminal proceedings.