• Garth Callender

Medical device industry under microscope

Updated: Jan 17, 2019

This week - Medical device industry under microscope, a fashionista’s faux pas and onion-based spill.




1. The Australian regulator of medical devices called into question and the taxman targets top suppliers

An international investigation into the medical device industry has found that over 83,000 people have died globally owing to medical device failures.


  • The ABC has reported that data collected by researchers indicates that 1.7 million people have been injured by medical devices over the past decade, including more than 8,500 Australians, with fatalities numbering approximately 170.

  • The investigation conducted by a group of journalists from across the globe has sparked criticism of the regulation of medical devices in Australia.

  • The report has also raised questions regarding the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration which is responsible for the regulation of medical devices. Recent ‘skyrocketing’ device approvals has attracted criticism that the regulator may be too close to the industry.

  • Further adding to the industry sector turbulence, the Financial Review has also reported that the top 15 overseas corporations supplying Australia's $12 billion medical devices market are all rated as tax avoidance risks.

  • While the Therapeutic Goods Administration is under fire following this report, it is likely to have a flow-on effect to medical device manufacturers and Australian distributors. Additionally, this is likely to cause many current or potential recipients of such devices to query their safety and testing.

  • With a double pronged attack on the industry occurring it is likely that things with get worse before they get better for medical device suppliers. Nevertheless, there is significant work to be done to regain patient confidence and maintain their medical stakeholder support.

2. Dolce & Gabbana's social media crisis in China


Stefano Gabbana has attempted to distance himself from racist comments on the Dolce & Gabbana Instagram account, by claiming that his account was hacked.

  • An advertisement featuring a young Chinese woman in a glittery red dress trying to eat a cannoli with chopsticks and the lewd narration "Is it too huge for you?" was the start of the incident. But the fallout from the publicly broadcast private messages from Stefano Gabbana was what caused the Italian luxury brand to abruptly cancel its Shanghai fashion show.

  • The comments that included such phrases as: "China ignorant dirty smelling mafia", caused ‘outrage’ amongst the growing base of affluent middle-class Chinese consumers.

  • The result is Dolce & Gabbana will have a tough task ahead repairing their reputation in China. Time will tell how much the incident will have on their sales in China. However, one thing is almost certainly true – their attempt to distance themselves from the comments by claiming hacking will further disenfranchise their customers. Particularly when Gabbana is known for his online spats.

  • While online apologies have been made the company appeared unprepared for the backlash caused by their often-outspoken stylist and namesake.


3. ‘Australians declare existential crisis over onion placement’ – as reported by the New York Times


The Australian hardware chain Bunnings was certainly attempting to do the right thing… but high-level discussion on placement of onions in a sausage sandwich, has turned into a global PR incident for the company.


  • Is a ring of BBQ’ed onion a slip hazard? Someone in the Bunnings OHS team believes so… and who is to argue? It can’t be denied that a fall caused by an oily piece of onion, when in the gardening tools section, could result in serious injury.

  • What does appear clear is that the general public did not appreciate the nanny…ish way that Bunnings attempted to dictate how to construct a sausage sandwich for its ever-popular fundraising BBQ volunteers.

  • It appears that Bunnings is doing everything right when working to minimise safety threats to the staff and customers. But they are failing in the delivery and management of their messaging. Additional scenario planning around the delivery of their messaging may have helped in avoiding their reputational issue.

  • Notwithstanding, we can be sure that Bunnings and their hosting of the ever-popular BBQs, will survive another weekend.

  • Once again, following his public support for the strawberry industry, the Prime Minister has weighed in to offer some free advertising for Bunnings and their fundraising BBQs.


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