The Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) has announced an investigation into a $14,990 device spruiked by celebrity chef Pete Evans as a treatment for the coronavirus.
Evans shared an Instagram video, since taken down, discussing the BioCharger NG — a “hybrid subtle energy revitalisation platform” which claims to “optimise and improve potential health, wellness and athletic performance”.
It is listed under the lifestyle products section of Evans’s website and claims to replicate light, frequencies, harmonics, pulsed electromagnetic fields and voltage that are found in nature.
The My Kitchen Rules judge said he used the device most days and claimed it could help with the coronavirus, which has been responsible for 55 deaths in Australia and more than 95,000 overseas.
“It’s programmed with a thousand different recipes and there’s a couple in there for the Wuhan coronavirus,” Evans said in the video.
The TGA said it would investigate the product, warning that advertising of therapeutic goods needed to meet certain requirements.
“The TGA will investigate the product you have referred and take action in relation to any illegal advertising of therapeutic products, including advertising on social media,” a Department of Health spokesman said in a statement.
“The TGA is monitoring non-compliance, particularly in relation to the advertising of products that claim to prevent or cure COVID-19.”
The creators of the BioCharger NG, Advanced Biotechnologies, released a statement distancing themselves from Evans’s claims.
The Massachusetts-based company reiterated a disclaimer on the product’s website that “the BioCharger NG is not a medical device” and is not intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of diseases or any other conditions.
“Recent coverage points to the BioCharger as a cure or treatment to the novel coronavirus,” the company said in the statement.
“The BioCharger is not a medical device, and for that reason, Advanced Biotechnologies suggest that anyone seek medical attention from their primary care provider if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and all other diseases, infections and ailments; and follow guidelines put in place by your local governments including social distancing, strong personal hygiene, and contacting your primary care provider when experiencing any symptoms.
“BioCharger NG supplies through sales contract and influencer guidelines to urge owners, users, and promoters of the BioCharger NG to exercise their best judgement when speaking about the BioCharger NG, and above all else — to not make claims.”
Australian Medical Association ACT president Antonio Di Dio told the ABC he had “significant concern about any person promoting a product which claims to be curative of COVID-19”.
“I can say with some confidence that there are 220-odd countries around the world which have absolutely no cure for the COVID-19 virus and scientists around the world are desperately looking for a vaccine or for a cure and there is none,” he said.
“If Mr Evans is promoting a product which claims to be curative of the virus, he is quite simply, very wrong.”
Dr Di Dio said an investigation was within the TGA’s remit, but said it was disappointing its time and resources needed to be diverted at this time.
“If he is claiming he has a product, whether it’s cheap or expensive … is going to cure COVID-19 then it should be fully investigated and if it is demonstrated to have absolutely no evidence supporting its curative claims, then all of the appropriate apologies should occur,” he said.
“It’s very disappointing it’s taking time and energy away from the people who should be devoting their time and energy to the scientific pursuit of the cure of this disease.”
Dr Di Dio’s comments came after the association hit out at the “fancy light machine” on social media.
‘He is not a doctor. He is a chef’
“This guy just doesn’t get it. Pete Evans is trying to sell a $15,000 fancy light machine to vulnerable and frightened people to protect them against #COVID-19,” the association said on Twitter.
“He is not a doctor. He is not a scientist. He is a chef.”
Harry Nespolon, president of the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, also criticised Evans’ claims.
“A few months ago I advised anti-vaxxer/celebrity chef Pete Evans that he should stick to talking about ‘activated almonds’ and leave vaccinations alone,” Dr Nespolon wrote on Twitter.
“He’s at it again, [t]his time on #COVD-19 and he needs to stop.”