A “church” that promoted a solution containing bleach as a cure for COVID-19 has been fined more than $150,000 by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
The drugs regulator said there was no clinical, scientifically-accepted evidence showing that the product marketed by the Australian chapter of the Genesis II Church of Health and Healing could cure or alleviate any disease.
The TGA issued 12 infringement notices for a total of $151,200 for the alleged unlawful advertising of its Miracle Mineral Supplement by the church’s website, MMS Australia.
“The use of MMS presents serious health risks, and can result in nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea and severe dehydration, which in some cases can result in hospitalisation,” the TGA said in a statement on Wednesday.
The Genesis II Church of Health and Healing has claimed chlorine dioxide, an industrial bleach it sells as MMS, is a “miracle cure”. It has said it can cure COVID-19, as well as autism, acne, cancer, diabetes and more.
The US leader of the church, Archbishop Mark Grenon, has claimed he wrote to President Donald Trump about its “sacramental cleansing water” days before Mr Trump’s infamous media conference in which he suggested injecting disinfectant as a potential coronavirus cure.
Mr Trump later claimed his remarks were intended as sarcasm.
But they prompted health experts to issue public warnings against attempting it.
MMS is not approved for human consumption in Australia or the US.
- Read the TGA’s full statement on MMS here
The TGA said it was concerned about potential harmful effects of swallowing MMS, and had published an updated safety alert to warn consumers about the church’s online claims.
“There is no clinical, scientifically-accepted evidence showing that MMS can cure or alleviate any disease,” it said.
The TGA said MMS Australia had promoted several products as being for therapeutic uses, which meant they were subject to TGA rules.
The infringement notices were issued based on several alleged contraventions of those rules.
Late in April, the TGA also fined celebrity chef Pete Evans $25,000 for claims about an expensive “light machine” he said could treat the “Wuhan coronavirus”.
It said it had received several complains about Evans’ promotion of the $15,000 BioCharger device.
“Mr Evans allegedly live-streamed on his Facebook page, which has more than 1.4 million followers, claims that the device could be used in relation to ‘Wuhan coronavirus’ – claim which has no apparent foundation, and which the TGA takes extremely seriously,” it said.