10 pharmacy products consumers don’t need: CHOICE

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The consumer advocacy organisation has listed the top 10 over-the-counter medicines, supplements and health products it says are “best left on the shelf”

CHOICE has published a list of 10 products that pharmacies sell, which it warns to consumers are not worth buying.

“You might think pharmacies only sell products worth buying, and certainly the medicines sold from behind the counter would fall into that category,” writes CHOICE health researcher Karina Bray.

“But scanning the shelves, we found a surprising number of products that couldn’t possibly live up to their claims, others that might do more harm than good and some that don’t offer very good value for money.

“Here are 10 you might give a miss.”

  1. Vitamin lollies and goat milk chews – CHOICE says these are “essentially treats with little nutritional value”.
  2. Blooms Back, Neck & Shoulders + – because “oral medicine can’t target pain in specific areas of the body”.
  3. Dick Wicks Magnetic Knee Support – “It’s likely that at least part of any treatment effect comes from the pressure and support you get from the wraps and bands” rather than the magnets, says CHOICE.
  4. Bioglan Melatonin – “There’s no evidence that homeopathic melatonin (or homeopathic products in general) has an effect better than placebo.”
  5. Toddler and junior formula – “Most can safely drink cow’s milk, so do you really need a special formula? Paediatric experts and health authorities worldwide say no.”
  6. Combined paracetamol and ibuprofen pills – “The catch? They cost more. [And] combination pills aren’t suitable for all types of pain.”
  7. Sudafed PE and others – Studies have found that phenylephrine isn’t an effective decongestant, says CHOICE.
  8. Eye drop products with benzalkonium chloride – This ingredient causes irritation in some people, and there are concerns that long-term use can damage the surface of the eye, argues CHOICE.
  9. Fluoride-free “natural” toothpastes – When used as recommended, fluoride is a “safe and effective” treatment to prevent dental cavities.
  10. Cough medicine – “There is a surprising lack of evidence that cough medicines work,” says CHOICE.

See the full list and reasoning here

What do you think about CHOICE’s list?

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  1. pagophilus

    Fluoride may be safe and effective but some people don’t want it. It’s not a nutrient, and if people are serious about looking after their teeth, they can go without fluoride. What does choice propose? Force them to have it? They’ll just buy the fluoride-free stuff elsewhere. Not every issue in life needs medicating.

  2. Ron Batagol

    Actually, they’ve done a “half-decent job” in identifying just as few of these products in that category!

  3. SKar

    Great list. Only additions to this would be ear candles which have next to no evidence for both reducing ear wax or headaches/vertigo. The big one is anything homeopathic. Homeopathy should not be anywhere near a healthcare destination!

    • Amandarose

      I don’t have a problem with ear candles as the are pleasant to use. It’s relaxing and enjoyable which I think has emotional benefits regardless of ear cleaning abilities. As long as false claims are not made people should be able to use things that are not evidence based.

      As for homeopathy- no place in pharmacy as it is both non evidenced based and offers no more then a placebo.

      But then again for a placebo to work you have to believe and I am guessing sugar tablets are better the antihistamines if the patient gets the same result ( sleep) without the side effects. I just don’t think they belong if pharmacy – people can get their placebos elsewhere.

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