The Trade Practices Act includes strict provisions stipulating how and when a product, including a medicinal product, can be said to be "made in Australia".
The ACCC strictly enforces the "made in Australia" provisions of the Trade Practices Act and two recent cases show that the ACCC is prepared to enforce these provisions in the case of complementary medicines.
In the first case an importer imported bulk supplies of squalene, propolis, omega 3 and royal jelly products from New Zealand in capsule form which were then packaged into retail quantities and labelled "made in Australia".
In the second case an importer imported bulk supplies of squalene and propolis products in capsule form which were then packaged into retail quantities and labelled "made in Australia". The importer also claimed on its website that it operated a modern factory and employed its own research staff when in fact it had no role in research or manufacture of the products concerned.
In both cases the products were not substantially transformed in Australia and less than 50 percent of the cost of manufacture occurred in Australia. Neither of the importers could, therefore, sustain their "made in Australia" claims. Both importers were required to give court enforceable undertakings to the ACCC to review their promotional material and not, in the future, to represent that products are made in Australia unless such claims can be substantiated in accordance with the provisions of the Trade Practices Act.
These recent cases reinforce, yet again, that a great deal of care needs to be taken when considering "made in Australia" provisions for therapeutic products. The rules relating to when a product can lawfully said to be made in Australia are complex and companies considering such claims are well advised to obtain legal advice before doing so.
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