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Celebrity chef Pete Evans has been slapped with a $25,000 fine for claiming a device he was selling for $15,000 could be used in the treatment of COVID-19.
Evans allegedly spruiked the “BioCharger” product in a live video to his Facebook page, which has a following of about 1.4 million people, on April 9, according to the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
In a statement issued on Friday, the TGA alleges Evans claimed “the device could be used in relation to ‘Wuhan Coronavirus’”.
“A claim which has no apparent foundation,” the TGA continued.
“Any claim that references COVID-19 is a restricted representation under therapeutic goods legislation, and is of significant concern to the TGA given the heightened public concern about the pandemic.
“The TGA recently published a warning to advertisers and consumers about illegal advertising relating to COVID-19.”
The regulatory body said it took these kinds of statements “extremely seriously” and it had issued Evans with a total fine of $25,200 for two separate infringements.
The second was for alleged advertising breaches on Evans’ website, which included claims the BioCharger was “proven to restore strength, stamina, co-ordination and mental clarity”.
The site also allegedly claimed the device would help with “sharpening your mental clarity, recovery... from an injury or stress, accelerating muscle recovery and reducing stiffness in joints”.
The device fell into the category of a therapeutic good within the meaning of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989, and is subject to the regulatory framework established under the Act and administered by the TGA.
Therapeutic goods must be entered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) before they can be legally supplied or advertised in Australia.
The TGA said it was monitoring non-compliance in Australia and was paying particular attention to the advertising of products that claim to prevent or cure COVID-19.
It said it would continue to take action in relation to any advertisements that do not meet the requirements, including those that seek to mislead consumers.
In a statement provided to Yahoo News Australia, Evans said he planned to "strongly" defend the TGA's allegations.
“The claims made by the TGA are totally unfounded and we will be strongly defending these claims. It is now in the hands of my lawyers,” he said.
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