As a pharmacy professional, you must:
1. Make patients your first concern
2. Use your professional judgement in the interests of patients and the public
3. Show respect for others
4. Encourage patients and the public to participate in decisions about their care
5. Develop your professional knowledge and competence
6. Be honest and trustworthy
7. Take responsibility for your working practices.
Even though these 7 main principles were laid down by the UK General Pharmaceutical Council, they are pretty much universal and apply to pharmacists the world over.
On this blog, I have repeatedly criticised community pharmacists (here I am only discussing this branch of pharmacists) for selling remedies which are not just of debatable efficacy but which fly in the face of science and have been all but disproven. Recently, I came across this website of a working group of the Austrian Society of Pharmacists. It is in German, so I will translate a few sections for you.
They say that it is their aim to find “explanatory models for the mechanisms of action of homeopathy”. This is a strange aim, in my view, not least because there is no proven efficacy; why then search for a mechanism?
Things go from bad to worse when we consider the ‘Notfallapotheke’, the emergency kit which they recommend to consumers who might find themselves in desperate need for emergency care. It includes the following remedies, doses and indications:
Aconitum C 30 2 x 5 Glob, first remedy in cases of fever
Allium cepa C 12 3 x 5 Glob, hayfever or cold
Anamirta cocculusLM 12 : 2 x 5, travel sickness
Apis mellifica C 200 2 x 5 Glob, insect bites
Arnica C 200 1 x 5 Glob, injuries
Acidum arsenicosum C 12 3 – 5 x 5, food poisoning
Atropa belladonna C 30 2 x 5 Glob, high fever
Cephaelis ipecacuahna C 12 2 x 5 Glob, nausea and vomiting
Coffea arabica C 12 2 x 5 Glob, insomnia and restlessness
Euphrasia officinalis C 12 3 x 5 Glob, eye problems
Ferrum phosphoricum C 12 2 x 5 Glob, nose bleed
Lachesis muta C 30 1 x 5 Glob, infected wounds
Lytta vesicatoria C 200 1 – 2 x 5, burns,
Matricaria chamomilla C 30 1 x 3 Glob, toothache
Mercurius LM 12 2 x 5 Glob ear ache, weakness
Pulsatilla LM 12 2 x 5 Glob, ear ache, indigestion
Solanum dulcamara C12 3 x 5 Glob, cystitis
Strychnos nux vomica LM 12 2 x 5 Glob, hangover
Rhus toxicodendron C 200 2 x 5 Glob, rheumatic pain
Veratrum album C12, 3-5 x 3, watery diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting, circulatory problems, collapse.
I can well imagine that, after reading this, some of my readers are in need of some Veratrum album because of near collapse with laughter (or fury?).
We all know that most pharmacists sell such useless remedies; and we might pity them for such behaviour, as they claim they have no choice. But if pharmacists’ professional organisations put themselves so very clearly behind quackery thereby violating all ethical rules in the book, one is truly speechless.
Do I hear someone mutter “what has Austria to do with us?”?
Not a lot, perhaps – but have a look at the range of similar ‘homeopathic emergency kits’ sold outside Austria. Or be stunned by the plethora of homeopathic pharmacies across the globe here and UK-wide here. Or consider the fact that most non-homeopathic pharmacies in the world sell homeopathic remedies. Or let me remind you that a snapshot investigation into UK pharmacies revealed that 13 out of 20 pharmacisits failed to explain that there’s no clinical evidence that homeopathy works. Or be once again reminded that it is “the ethical role of the pharmacist is to give accurate, impartial information regarding the homeopathic therapy, the current scientific proof on their therapeutic effects, including the placebo effect.”
And what is the current scientific proof?
The most reliable verdict that I am aware of comes from the Australian ‘NATIONAL HEALTH AND MEDICAL RESEARCH COUNCIL’ (NHMRC) who have assessed the effectiveness of homeopathy. The evaluation concluded that “the evidence from research in humans does not show that homeopathy is effective for treating the range of health conditions considered.”
I rest my case.
While the morality of the issue seems obvious enough, the economics may not be. We have a for-profit health system. A pharmacist is essentially a store owner. Sure he/she has to have some education, but what use is even the best education on the planet, if the Educated One chooses to ignore it?
Just look at the nonsense spouted by überquack Dr. Oz, the Bernie Madoff of medicine, on his highly successful programme. He tells his gullible viewers everything they want to hear, and it makes him a fortune. Clearly, he just chooses to put his education and/or evidence-based knowledge to sleep in favour of another type of evidence-based knowledge: people want to believe fairy tales, they flock to those who oblige and they are prepared to reward them handsomely.
As long as people like this are not properly ridiculed, warned against, defrocked and thrown into some well-advertised dungeon, what incentive does the pharmacist have to play it fair, if her/his only reward is disgruntled customers, less sales, less profit and potential bankruptcy?
Those “remedies” just sound like Harry Potter spell. And they are just as real.
We just have the greatest Ebola outbreak ever. But Homeopaths have a solution: As therapy against ebola and other infections but also as prophylaxis. If you will buy this kit it seams clear that it has to be prepaid !
Bio-Organism Prophylactics Kit
Staphlococcus-30c…staph or other infection
For epidemics: use the cap of the bottle, place 1 pellet on the tongue and allow to dissolve before eating or drinking, 1x/day.
As a prophylactic, place 1 pellet on tongue and take 1x/week for 3 weeks, then stop. Repeat if epidemic arises. Do Not touch remedies with hands, use lid of vial Stop if any unusual symptoms arise.
Natural antibiotics: Grapefruit seed extract; Olive leaf; Oregano Oil; Ionic Silver and Zinc; Honey; BHT
One of the best websites to consult for homeopathic first-aid kits is Amazon USA. Surf to http://www.amazon.com/Homeopathic-Accident-Emergency-Remedy-Kit/dp/B00520I9D8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1412409599&sr=8-1&keywords=homeopathic+first+aid and read the reviews, many of which are hilarious.
A couple of brilliant examples…
” I sliced myself in two with an industrial bandsaw at work. Luckily my left half was able to slither over to the Homeopathic Accident Kit we keep in the office, which was imbued with the memory of what I looked like before I scattered myself across a wide area, and I was back at work again after just 5 years of intensive physiotherapy. During my ordeal, if it hadn’t been for these clinically proven Tic Tacs, I don’t think I would have pulled through.”
“Rush to aid someone with this kit, and they’ll be sure to laugh their woes away. Laughter really is the best medicine. Makes a great gag gift for… Wait. Over $50? This isn’t a gag gift, is it? Holy crap! People think this will work?”
“I tried to dilute most of the vials as they were just too strong, curses, they just got even stronger!”
Thanks very much for that link, FrankO 🙂
I’ve always wondered if the Society of Homeopaths resulted from someone misusing a thesaurus. The Asylum for Homeopaths would better describe its activities:
“In 2013 the UK Advertising Standards Authority concluded that the Society of Homeopaths were targeting vulnerable ill people and discouraging the use of essential medical treatment while making misleading claims of efficacy for homeopathic products.”
For a superb demolition of the ‘evidence’ the Society of Homeopaths provided to the ASA in defence of their claims, see Testing Homeopathy – Part 3: Research Evidence?
Alan, thank you for providing this very important information on the Society of Homeopaths and its members. Homeopaths do indeed prey heavily on vulnerable members of society e.g. those who suffer CFS/ME are one of their primary targets: 250 thousand potential clients of the false promises given by homeopaths et al. within the UK.
Here’s a link to what I consider to be also salient information, written by Professor William M. London:
What I learnt from William’s article is that even just the promotion/advocacy of ineffective health treatments counts as both quackery and (Medical) Health Fraud. Furthermore, he shows that the definition of the terms “scientific proof” and “burden of proof” have legal ramifications that go far beyond the basic scientific definitions of these terms.
One should start with considering: what if homeopaths are wrong? Because treatment offered by dentist works against toothaches and prevents abscesses, blood posoning etc. Or ear aches – ears can hurt for many reasons and often no treatment is necessary (these are success stories of homeopaths) but ears are too close to the brain….