A Western Australia-based pharmacy has been fined almost A$40,000 for allegedly advertising medicinal cannabis on its website, Facebook page and on in-store posters.

The financial penalty for the trio of offences was handed to Commcare (WA), which trades as St Francis Pharmacy, by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).

The Facebook ads contained a restricted representation for the treatment of fibromyalgia, the TGA said.

“Commcare (WA) allegedly made reference to medicinal cannabis in advertising on its website. In Australia, medicinal cannabis is regulated as a prescription medicine and cannot be advertised to the public,” the regulator said after dishing out the $39,906 fine.

“It is alleged that the company also advertised, on a poster displayed in its shop, medicinal cannabis that was not entered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) at the time of advertising.

“It is further alleged that the company’s advertisement for medicinal cannabis on its Facebook page contained a restricted representation for the treatment of fibromyalgia. The company had not been granted relevant authorisation to refer to the serious condition in advertising.”

Meanwhile, the regulator has also issued infringement notices totalling $7,992 to an individual from South Australia for alleged breaches of the Therapeutics Goods Act 1989. 

It is alleged the individual advertised the use and supply of various hemp oil medicines on their website which were not entered in the ARTG.

It is also alleged that the advertising contained prohibited and restricted representations by claiming the products could be used to treat serious conditions and diseases such as cancer, autism, epilepsy and Alzheimer’s disease. 

The TGA tested one of the advertised products labelled ‘Rick’s Hemp Oil Full Spectrum Hemp Supplement 500mg’, finding it contained undeclared substances. 

It has now issued a safety advisory for that product and another reminder of the rules governing the advertising of medicinal cannabis urging anyone with suspicions of illegal activity to report them to the regulator.

Steve has reported for a number of consumer and B2B titles over a journalism career spanning more than three decades. He is a regulator contributor to health journal, The Medical Republic, writing on...

Hannah Adler

Hannah is a communications professional and early-career researcher in the disciplines of health communication and health sociology. She is a PhD student at Griffith University currently writing a...