Consumer Protection

A$3.6 Million in Consumer Law Penalties
Asia Pacific

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has made available a speech (7 June 2011) delivered by ACCC chairperson Graeme Samuel. According to Mr Samuel, the ACCC has obtained over A$3.6 million in penalties using its powers under the new Australian Consumer Law since its introduction.
ACCC’s media release (7 June 2011)
(Source: ACCC)

US$34 Million Fine for Misbranding Drug

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has announced that UCB Inc (UCB) has admitted to mislabelling its epilepsy drug Keppra as an anti-migraine drug when it was not approved for the treatment of migraine, headache, psychiatric conditions or pain conditions. According to the DoJ, UCB “disseminat[ed] posters representing that Keppra was safe and effective for treating migraine based on purportedly independent investigator-initiated studies” but did not reveal that UCB’s own trials had failed to demonstrate that the drug was effective for migraine. As a result, UCB will pay more than US$34 million to resolve liability arising from its misrepresentation.
DoJ’s media release (9 June 2011)
(Source: DoJ)

Companies and Individuals Fined for Allergy Treatment Misrepresentations
Asia Pacific

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has announced that the Federal Court has imposed a US$185,000 fine on Newlife Publishing and Marketing Pty Ltd, Renew You Centre for Wellbeing and Longevity Pty Ltd, Bojan Schianetz and Dzung Kieu Price for making false and misleading representations to consumers in relation to the testing and treatment of allergies. The court, among other things, declared that the respondents had represented that they could:

  • “test for, identify and treat a person’s allergies or allergic reactions, when they could not”;
  • “cure or eliminate all or virtually all allergies, or allergic reactions, when they could not”; and
  • “instruct parents and carers of children to test for, identify, treat and cure or eliminate allergies for a child, when they could not”.

ACCC’s media release (2 June 2011)
(Source: ACCC)

Federal Agency to Revise Guidance on Online Advertising

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has announced that it is revising its guidance document Dot Com Disclosures: Information About Online Advertising (May 2000) to ensure that the information it provides is still relevant. The FTC notes that in the 11 years since the document was first released, the “online world has changed dramatically”, with social networking, mobile marketing and applications creating new legal issues for consumers and advertisers alike, and potentially rendering existing advice obsolete.

Comments on the document review should be sent to the FTC by 11 July 2011.
Further information from the FTC
FTC’s media release (26 May 2011)
(Source: FTC)

OFT to Address Concerns Over Credit Practices
Europe, Middle East and Africa

The UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has announced two new pieces of guidance in relation to marketing and charging practices used by credit brokers and debt management companies, namely, on the standards it expects of credit brokers, and debt management. As outlined in its Response to the super-complaint by Citizens Advice (June 2011), the OFT is urging the government to consider the need for new legislation in the sub-prime unsecured credit brokerage market to protect “vulnerable consumers”.

The OFT has made available Credit brokers and intermediaries – Draft OFT Guidance: A consultation (June 2011), comments on which should be sent to Paul Hosier by 23 August 2011.
OFT’s media release (1 June 2011)
(Source: OFT)