$10m fine for online drug store
An online drug company has been hit with a $10 million fine for its expensive ‘wonder drugs’.
Peptide Clinics claimed its drugs bronzed skin, built muscle and improved fitness — but the Federal Court says it was misleading customers.
Peptide Clinics was found to have been “obstructive” during a Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) investigation.
The TGA found the company had been using doctors banned from prescribing peptides to prescribe the drugs.
Federal Court Justice Jayne Jagot found the Sydney-based company — which is now in liquidation —engaged in misleading and false advertising.
“Based on the expert evidence, there was potential for harm to human health,” she found.
First-time customers to the Peptide Clinics site were asked to complete a medical questionnaire to gain access to a secret website where Schedule 4 substances, which required a prescription, could be purchased for up to $1,400.
The court heard the questionnaire was assessed by a medical practitioner.
“[Peptide Clinics] refused to identify to the TGA the names and registration numbers of the medical practitioners who were said to grant access to the backend of the website,” Justice Jagot said in her judgement.
“It was later revealed that certain doctors that Peptide Clinics used to write prescriptions for its products had previously had limitations placed on their medical licences which prevented them from providing substances like peptides.”
Drugs were marketed for almost any purpose - to improve confidence, lean muscle mass, tanning, weight loss, libido, hair loss and insomnia.
“The products sold by Peptide Clinics were expensive,” the court found.
“The evidence shows that products were being sold for amounts ranging from $99.95 to $209.95, $900 and $1399.85.
“It can be inferred that for products that were, at best, ineffective and likely dangerous, consumers would have suffered significant financial loss in addition to risking their health and safety.”
Justice Jagot accepted a submission from the TGA that Peptide Clinics “deliberately and recklessly pursued its own financial self-interest at the expense of its legal obligations and the interests of public health”.