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Clinic fined $127,000 for false ad claims

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In an Australian-first, Wellness Enterprises Pty Limited, which traded as Australian Male Hormone Clinic, has been fined $127,500 plus costs for 17 charges related to unlawful advertising of regulated health services.

The company has been fined $127,500 by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) for false claims published in newspapers around Australia between February and August 2017 relating to the treatment of testosterone deficiency.

The full page ‘advertorial’ style advertisements made a number of claims about the benefits of treatment, including increased energy, focus, masculinity and strength, and ability to satisfy sexual partners. AHPRA challenged the validity of the claims citing best available evidence.
The ad which has been found in breach was published around the country.

In the Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney on 3 October, the corporation was found guilty and convicted on 17 charges. Magistrate Atkinson cited the seriousness of the offences in fining the corporation $7,500 on each charge, totalling $127,500. The corporation was also ordered to pay court costs of $3,000 and professional costs up to $3,000.

This is the first time that a corporation, not an individual health practitioner, has been convicted following advertising charges brought by AHPRA under section 133 of the National Law1.

AHPRA CEO Mr Martin Fletcher welcomed the court’s decision.

‘Our primary objective is to protect the public. Advertising can heavily influence a patient’s decision-making around their healthcare needs and information in advertising must be accurate and based on acceptable evidence. AHPRA and the National Boards will continue to take action against unlawful advertising in the best interests of all consumers of regulated health services,’ he said.

Wellness Enterprises Pty Limited was incorporated on 13 April 2016. It was placed into voluntary liquidation on 12 September 2017.

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