Activewear retailer Lorna Jane has copped fines of close to $40,000 after claiming that a new fabric treatment technology could provide protection against infectious diseases.

This month, the company launched its ‘LJ Shield exclusive technology’, claiming to have developed a treatment that, when applied to clothing, would protect wearers from “viruses and germs.”

The marketing materials for the company’s ‘Anti-Virus Activewear’ claimed that bacteria and infections diseases could not be transferred to the clothes, thanks to the protective technology.

The company was immediately criticised for this, with RACGP President Dr Harry Nespolon saying:

“I suspect Lorna Jane is cynically trying to exploit fears concerning the COVID-19 pandemic to sell clothes.”  

Lorna Jane has now been officially pulled up on the claims, with the Therapeutic Goods Administration issuing three fines, totalling $39,960, for alleged unlawful advertising in relation to COVID-19.

In a statement, the TGA said:

“Under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989, any references to COVID-19 (and related terms) in the promotion of these types of goods are restricted representations. A restricted representation refers to a serious form of a disease, condition, ailment or defect. The use of restricted representations in advertisements for therapeutic goods is unlawful without a prior formal approval or permission from the TGA.”

The statement continued:

“It is also a breach of the Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code (No. 2) 2018 to promote a therapeutic good as being safe, harmless or without side-effects. These advertisements are of significant concern given the current pandemic. The TGA has published a warning to advertisers and consumers abut illegal advertising relating to COVID-19.”

Lorna Jane has since issued a statement on its own website, saying that it is now marketing the product as “anti-bacterial” rather than “anti-virus”, and adding:

“We started working on this technology at the start of the year when we named it and now with there being such a focus on the Covid-19 virus and recent press making that the only focus. We didn’t want to mislead anyone. Our testing shows that LJ Shield is an important part of the stopping the spread of bacteria and should be used in combination with other precautionary measures such as face masks and thorough and frequent hand washing.”