The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has instituted legal proceedings against Menopause Institute of Australia Pty Ltd and its managing director, Dr Gary Aaron, alleging misleading and deceptive conduct in the advertising and promotion of its Natural Hormone Replacement Therapy Program for the treatment of menopause.
The ACCC has alleged in the Federal Court that Menopause Institute breached section 52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 by making misleading and deceptive representations about:
- the safety and effectiveness of its NHRT program as a treatment for symptoms of menopause and other diseases, and
- the safety and effectiveness of NHRT in comparison to conventional HRT.
The ACCC alleges that more than 30 representations made by Menopause Institute are misleading or deceptive, including that NHRT:
- reduces the risk of cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer's disease and senility
- is without dangerous, unwanted, reported or any side effects
- treats osteoporosis, premenstrual syndrome and loss of libido
- has a reduced risk of breast cancer and stroke in comparison to conventional HRT because NHRT uses bio-identical hormones
- is proving to be much safer than conventional HRT
- is just as effective as conventional HRT
- does not have any of the risks of conventional HRT.
The ACCC has also alleged that Dr Aaron, as managing director of Menopause Institute, authorised the making of representations by Menopause Institute that contravene section 52 of the Act.
The representations of concern to the ACCC were made in a variety of media, including a series of newspaper advertisements published in the Sun Herald and Sunday Telegraph; a television commercial aired on metropolitan and regional television networks across Australia; a series of radio advertisements aired on commercial radio stations; in brochures and other promotional material provided to prospective and current patients of Menopause Institute, and on the Menopause Institute's website (www.menopauseinstitute.com.au).
The ACCC is seeking court orders including:
- a declaration that Menopause Institute has breached section 52 of the Act
- an injunction preventing Menopause Institute from engaging in such misleading or deceptive conduct in the future
- declaration that Dr Gary Aaron breached section 52 of the Act
- an injunction preventing Dr Gary Aaron from engaging in such misleading or deceptive conduct in the future
- corrective notices in newspapers and on the Menopause Institute's website
- an order that Menopause Institute write a letter to its customers regarding the ACCC proceedings, and
A directions hearing for this matter is listed before Justice Branson for 31 August 2006 in the Federal Court, Sydney.
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