Loretta Marron wins Order of Australia

Loretta MarronLoretta Marron, three-time winner of Australian Skeptics’ Skeptic of the Year award, has been granted a 2014 Medal (OAM) in the General Division of the Order of Australia “for service to community health”.

Loretta has made great contributions to public health and the exposure of dangerous and discredited treatments that profit through offering spurious cures to the vulnerable and ill, and is a highly worthy recipient of this award.

Taking on the more dubious aspects of the billion-dollar therapeutic goods industry, the government, supermarkets and pharmacies, she is an indefatigable and persistent campaigner for patients’ rights, for common sense and for critical thinking in the face of ignorance, duplicity and the purveyance of ineffective, potentially harmful and sometimes fatal products and treatments, many of which she has exposed.

Loretta is the only person to have won the Skeptic of the Year award more than once, and she has done so three times: in 2007 and 2011 for her individual efforts, and again in 2012 as part of the Friends of Science in Medicine group.

But her campaigning for truth in the alt med field goes back well before these awards.

In 2003, she was herself diagnosed with breast cancer. This gave her first-hand experience of the scope of medical misinformation that contributes to the exploitation of our most vulnerable Australians. After successful cancer treatment in 2004, she looked for opportunities to help other cancer patients. As a retired business women, with a background in science, she realised that the self-serving therapeutic goods and alternative medicine industries cared little for consumer protection and something needed to be done to change this.

Under her initial guise as the ‘Jelly Bean Lady’, she has used her considerable communications skills to alert the media to counter false information about health matters, and to persistently lobby regulators to do their duty of regulating dubious claims and treatments. She has also developed the health directory Health Information (www.healthinformation.com.au), which offers much vital information on various health conditions. More recently, she was instrumental in the foundation of Friends of Science in Medicine, a group now numbering 1000 academics and interested parties who have expressed their concern over the teaching in Australian universities of those same questionable pseudosciences.

Her activities have resulted in the withdrawal of many pseudoscientific products from the market and from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods, and highlighted many dangerous practices in both private ‘care’ and public institutions, particularly the unwarranted treatment of infants with chiropractic manipulation – an unproven treatment which carries serious risks. Her efforts in these areas have avoided much suffering and, quite possibly, prevented the deaths of Australians of all ages and conditions.

And all of this activity has been at her own cost, and often using only her own resources. She is motivated purely by a sincere concern for the community, and distress at those who benefit from pain and suffering.

As a praiseworthy, admirable and inspirational member of the Australian community, we are thrilled that Loretta has been further recognised with this prestigious honour for her efforts, her drive and, not least, her results.