An Australian doctor has revealed medical professionals in Australia are banned from promoting people get the coronavirus vaccine.
Dr Preeya Alexander, a GP and mother-of-two, exposed the ‘ridiculous’ gag on a post on her Instagram account, The Wholesome Doctor, on Tuesday.
She has pointed out the Therapeutic Goods Administration has warned that doctors would be breaking the law if they voice their opinions on a Covid vaccine online, while notorious anti-vaxxers are protected by free speech.
Dr Preeya Alexander (pictured) said she and her GP colleagues are banned by the TGA from promoting Covid vaccines online
Dr Alexander in a post on Tuesday said she was ‘confused’ and ‘appalled’ at the rule preventing her from providing information
The Therapeautic Goods Act 1989 prevents medical professionals from advertising or promoting treatments including prescription medications.
The basis for the ban is so that doctors remain impartial and objective when recommending treatments, however, Dr Alexander argues the rule also means those with expertise are unable to publicly advocate for a vaccine.
She argues public figures arguing against a vaccine were given an uneven platform to spread misinformation – referencing well-known anti-vaccination campaigner and former My Kitchen Rules host Pete Evans.
‘A former celebrity chef can widely spread misinformation regarding the COVID-19 and other vaccines … as can a ‘WAG’ or former model. But a qualified health professional can’t share their expert views on the COVID-19 vaccine?’ she posted.
‘Our hands are now tied and we are silenced, literally left powerless to fight the absolute nonsense and health misinformation.’
Dr Alexander said she was ‘confused’ and ‘appalled’ she and her colleagues are effectively gagged from talking about a vaccine on platform like Instagram – which could affect people making an informed choice.
‘When I and many of my colleagues on here discuss vaccinations it’s not promotion – it’s information,’ she said.
Most of those commenting on the post agreed – with many other doctors expressing their frustration not only at the gag law but at social media platforms for allowing misinformation to spread.
‘Influencers can make any claim about any product but doctors can’t discuss a TGA listed product … My frustration levels have reached 11/10 at how ridiculous social media platforms are for allowing and promoting misinformation,’ one person said.
‘I get why the TGA has done this, we have amazingly strict rules on advertising to protect patients. But totally agree, it’s accidentally led to us being hamstrung whilst misinformation can be spread far and wide.’ another added.
She said the rule allowed anti-vaxxer campaigners like Pete Evans (pictured) an uneven platform to spread misinformation
Royal Australian College of General Practioners president Dr Karen Price said she has been in contact with the TGA about the issue – and they agree more clarification is needed.
She explained she retweeted a list of vaccine from the World Health Organisation and asked if that would be against the law.
‘They told me no, that was providing information – the problem would be if I went on to say ‘Come to my clinic’ – it’s about the inducement.’ she told news.com.au.
‘But doctors can say they are going to offer COVID vaccines on this date, and clearly if you come into a clinic you can discuss it as you would normally.’
She said her organisation and the TGA were in discussions about the issue.
The TGA said in a statement that the same rules for any medication also applied to coronavirus vaccines.
Dr Alexander from Sydney runs The Wholesome Doctor blog and Instagram account
They said doctors could promote vaccines in general but not any particular brand of vaccine – and they could also share government authorised material about vaccines and the rollout with no issue.
‘It is important to note that discussions and information shared between a health professional and their patient during a course of treatment (eg during a consultation) are not subject to the advertising requirements for therapeutic goods,’ the statement explains.
‘The TGA accepts however that not all information (including in social media posts) is advertising within the meaning of the Act. Distinguishing between factual, balanced and non-promotional information, and the promotion of the use or supply of therapeutic goods (ie. advertising) can be difficult and needs to be assessed on a case-by-case basis and in the context in which it is presented.
‘For example, the Act could not prohibit a doctor from giving their view in relation to vaccination generally (which is a service rather than a product) however if that view extends to identifying particular vaccine products discussed in a favourable way it would likely be captured by the Act.’
Source: Daily Mail Australia | World News