Regulating autologous stem cell interventions in Australia: updated review of the direct-to-consumer advertising restrictions

Christopher Rudge*, Narcyz Ghinea, Megan Munsie, Cameron Stewart

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objective: This paper provides an update and overview of the law governing direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising of autologous stem cell interventions (ASCIs) in Australia. It follows significant changes to the advertising regulations made in 2018.
Methods: The paper reviews the three primary sources or ‘centres’ of law regulating ASCIs in Australia, together with the relevant guidance documents that supplement these sources. It provides analysis of how the post-2018 advertising regulations, contained in the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cwlth), apply to all ‘biologicals’, including ASCIs. It demonstrates how these three sources of law interact with one another and outlines the new tiered offence regime that applies to contraventions of these prohibitions.
Results: The analysis demonstrates that DTC advertising of ASCIs in Australia is strictly controlled, with primary legislation prohibiting the advertising of biologicals altogether.Conclusions: The polycentric legal regime regulating biologicals in Australia clearly makes DTC advertising of ASCIs unlawful. Health practitioners who promote ASCIs, either online, in print or in other media forms, may be penalised in different ways and by different authorities.
What is known about the topic: Although several analyses have examined the regulation of ASCIs in Australia, no analysis has studied the reforms made in 2018 relating to the advertising of biologicals. As such, this analysis contributes a fresh examination of these relatively recent reforms.
What does this paper add: This analysis clarifies the effects of these new advertising regulations, providing clear guidance on the relevant legal provisions for the benefit of health practitioners and health professionals more generally.
What are the implications for practitioners? Health practitioners, especially those who offer ASCIs, should be aware that civil and criminal penalties are likely to be imposed on individuals who promote biologicals in Australia by any means.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)507-515
Number of pages9
JournalAustralian Health Review
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • autologous
  • biologicals
  • direct-to-consumer advertising
  • stem cells
  • therapeutic goods regulation


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