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Hunt denies helping Liberal donor push for regulator’s review

In an email, the minister’s office said: “The minister will likely seek review later this year.”

It is not suggested Mr Darrouzet had any involvement in the minister’s office’s emails.

Ellume has been trying to get its do-it-yourself flu test approved for use in Australia, but existing regulations prevent it. In an email dated May 30, 2019, Professor Skerritt said:

“The basis for this prohibition, which has been in place since 2010, was that it is considered that such testing is best conducted in conjunction with a healthcare professional.”

Another senior department official, Miranda Lauman, advised the need for caution.

“We don’t want to over-commit and also need to be consistent with the advice given to GlaxoSmithKline.”

Labor's health spokesman Chris Bowen.

Labor’s health spokesman Chris Bowen. Credit:Alex Ellinghausen

That advice was given seven months earlier in a meeting with the global pharmaceutical giant when the TGA was told it was working with Ellume on the self-diagnosing device.

Labor health spokesman Chris Bowen labelled it a “rolled-gold scandal”.

“It stinks to high heaven from beginning to end. This is in black and white, it’s there for all to see. This is the minister’s office and the minister interfering in the Therapeutic Goods Administration,” Mr Bowen said.

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Mr Hunt denies the allegation.

“The Therapeutic Goods Administration advised Australia was ‘some years behind some other medium-large [medical] regulators’ on this matter,” his spokesperson said.

“The TGA indicated that a review would require ministerial support as standard practice. A formal request for a review then followed with the minister’s consent in line with the TGA advice.”

The minister’s office insisted he had never met with Mr Darrouzet in his role as Health Minister or with representatives from Ellume.

Last August, Nine News revealed Ellume had benefited from a $1 million taxpayer-funded grant.

At the time, Mr Hunt’s spokesperson said “neither the minister nor his office has to the best of their knowledge met with Ellume … any such claim would be demonstrably false”.

The minister had been photographed with the device and an Ellume employee – Paul Darrouzet’s son Jim. Mr Hunt said he had met Jim Darrouzet at an industry function at Parliament House but insisted he wasn’t lobbied and he met many other people at the event.

Paul Darrouzet has said he never met Mr Hunt “in his capacity as Health Minister nor previously discussed any matters relating to Ellume with him”.

Mr Darrouzet said he was only made aware of the TGA review when reported by Nine News and has always strenuously denied any suggestion of wrongdoing in connection with his political donations.

A review into a range of home-testing devices was carried out between October and December last year. Recommendations are expected to be put to the minister by the middle of this year.

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