Homeopathy and Pharmacy

By AnthonyLast updated: Monday, February 22, 2010 • Save & Share5 Comments

The House of Commons select committee on science and technology has been examining homeopathy, and their report has been just been released. The main focus will be on the committee’s view that both NHS funding and MHRA licencing should be withdrawn. I’ll focus on the parts related more directly to Pharmacy and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain (RPSGB). First the good:

and the bad:

The RPSGB do come across as a slightly confused organisation, who have struggled through the the past few months to re-align their views on homeopathy. The evidence to the committee was seemingly at odds with the material on their website. Thankfully, the scientific view appears to have won out, and it is expected that new guidance to pharmacists will be science-based.

There are two recommendations at the end of the report relating to pharmacy.

30. We consider that the way to deal with the sale of homeopathic products is to remove any medical claim and any implied endorsement of efficacy by the MHRA—other than where its evidential standards used to assess conventional medicines have been met—and for the labelling to make it explicit that there is no scientific evidence that homeopathic products work beyond the placebo effect. (Paragraph 146)

31. Although it goes wider than the scope of this Evidence Check inquiry we must put on record our concern about the length of time the RPSGB appears to be taking to investigate and reach conclusions on cases where it has been alleged that its guidelines on the sale of homeopathic products have been breached. We recommend that the Government enquires into whether the RPSGB, and from the 2010 handover, the General Pharmaceutical Council, is doing an adequate job in respect of the time taken to pursue complaints. (Paragraph 151)

The committee stops short of suggesting homeopathy should not be sold by pharmacies, instead preferring that they are sold honestly. The central problem with homeopathy is the legitimacy given to it by NHS funding and government regulation. Tackling that will improve the position pharmacists are put in.

However, there is still plenty of work to be done in pharmacy. How can it be that there is a registered pharmacy regulated by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society supplying Leptospira, leprosy, and hepatitis remedies openly over the internet? It’s hard to reconcile that pharmacy’s continued registration with the Society’s position on homeopathy.

5 Responses to “Homeopathy and Pharmacy”

Comment from Reens
Time 12/3/2010 at 11:36 pm

This is why I would never be a community pharmacist.

I did my pre-reg in Boots, which was the worst year of life. My then “tutor” who was the store manager, told me that I need to go through the Nelsons book on homeopathy and learn it by heart. I had one look at it and thought it was unscientific garbage. We spend 4 years at university learning pharmacology and pharmaceutical chemistry, and this is the crap at boots we were told to ingest. I had no authority to over-rule him then.

I am equally skeptical of all those cough medicines, “weight loss” supplements, some herbal stuff, vitamins (Boots are so good at this- 3 for 2 offers) and minerals being sold in pharmacies.

Comment from Noble Title
Time 28/3/2010 at 8:05 pm

Thanks for writing such a thought-provoking post. Let’s keep the comments relevant.

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