Banner group pulls naturopath advice articles


Promotion of naturopathy by a leading pharmacy banner group could damage the profession, stakeholders claim

Banner group Amcal appears to have removed a series of articles from its website which listed naturopath advice above advice from a pharmacist, after Friends of Science in Medicine and the PSA contacted its parent company, Sigma.

Last week paediatrician Dr John McLennan from FSM wrote to Sigma CEO Mark Hooper expressing concern about the articles, some of which promoted unproven treatments such as homeopathy.

An article on children’s pain featured 20 lines of advice from a naturopath. While some of these recommendations, such as avoiding aspirin, are evidence-based advice, the article also included the line, “A safe alternative to drug-based pain relieving medication for children is homeopathic medicine. Some children respond very favourably to homeopathics”.

This was followed by nine lines of “pharmacist advice,” which included a recommendation for a vitamin or mineral supplement if the dietary intake was inadequate.

PSA CEO Dr Lance Emerson also wrote to Hooper, pointing out PSA’s position.

In a communication with Friends of Science in Medicine, Dr Emerson said PSA was “concerned with the lack of evidence supporting some of the recommendations contained in the article’s content, particularly the section on naturopathy, where consumers are advised to consider homeopathic remedies for very young babies”.

“We have pointed out that pharmacists, as medicines and medication management experts, have a fundamental role in ensuring consumers have access to safe and effective medicines,” Dr Emerson wrote to Friends of Science in Medicine.

“We have stated that as the peak body for pharmacists in Australia, PSA is very concerned to see on a pharmacy group website, information that ignores current evidence, particularly when described under the tagline of ‘expert advice’.

“PSA’s position is that ‘pharmacists must use their professional judgement to prevent the supply of products with no reliable evidence or evidence of no effect.’

“We are therefore concerned that the pharmacists who are part of the Amcal group could be seen to be endorsing the advice published on their website.

“We have strongly suggested Amcal remove this information from their website. Mr Hooper has emailed me saying he will action through this operations team.”

Dr Emerson later told the AJP that the promotion of naturopathy could harm the pharmacy profession.

“These non-evidence based services in community pharmacies not only open us up for criticism by fellow health practitioners, but consumers are becoming increasingly aware of what works and what doesn’t,” he says.

“When there are financially sustainable and evidence-based health service pharmacy models available that have proven to work (such as the Health Destination Pharmacy program), I don’t believe there is a place for these non-evidence based services now or in the future.”

On May 30, the articles were accessible from the Amcal website. Today, May 31, they became inaccessible and a search on the site for both “naturopathy” and “homeopathy” returned a nil result.

The AJP has reached out to Sigma for comment.

Meanwhile, a communication on Thursday, 26 May to Friends of Science in Medicine members highlighted the AJP’s poll on whether naturopathy was appropriate in pharmacy, with the suggestion, “You might like to vote”.

Previous Five top myths in pharmacy
Next Weekend rates protected in workplace agreement deal

NOTICE: It can sometimes take awhile for comment submissions to go through, please be patient.

29 Comments

  1. Ron Batagol
    01/06/2016

    What were they thinking of?? Good on those groups that made them back away!
    I’ve written and discussed, in professional circles and in the media over many years, the dangers of not seeking proper medical treatment and using homeopathics instead, especially on infants and children! (see http://www.abc.net.au/news/2010-02-23/homeopathy-not-for-children-pharmacist/340306
    etc.). At one stage, I also tried unsuccessfully to get TGA to ban the marketing of homeopathic products aimed at infants and children, sadly without any success.

  2. ReallyGoodMedicine
    01/06/2016

    Yellow “journalism” or should we say yellow web site-ism.

    Homeopathy is the second most used system of medicine in the world with over 550 million patients because it’s safe, effective — often curative where conventional treatments fail — and inexpensive. Its use is growing at annual rates of between 10% and 30% in countries around the world for these reasons. People are turning to it because of its attributes and because conventional medicine (the third most used system of medicine) cannot cure chronic diseases but can create serious, often fatal, iatrogenic diseases (called “side effects”). Conventional treatments are the third leading cause of death in the U.S. and most likely a similar number occurs in other countries. We have to wonder who is criticizing homeopathy. It certainly isn’t the people who use it. It isn’t the governments of the 20 countries that recognize it as a system of medicine or medical specialty and/or support it on their national health care insurance programs — countries like the U.S., Switzerland, Brazil and India.

    • Daniel Roitman
      01/06/2016

      Nothing you have written acknowledges the vast evidence-base that has conclusively determined that homeopathy is ineffective. Rather, you have invoked the same tired and frankly unfalsiable conspiracy theories that are both irrational and blind to evidence. It is this illogical and irrational form of thinking that endangers lives and prevents true progress.

      • BBF
        02/06/2016

        Lies, lies, and more lies. There is evidence, you just refuse to acknowledge it. It doesn’t make it go away just because you shut your eyes tight, Daniel.

        • GaryLayng
          07/06/2016

          References, please, to sound peer-reviewed studies demonstrating your claim. At this point in time I know of no study that has uncovered anything other than “equivalent to placebo effect”.

        • Sue Ieraci
          14/06/2016

          Major reviews of the evidence on homeopathic ‘remedies’ across several continents have failed to reveal any high quality evidence for its efficacy for any condition.

          This makes sense, because the ‘remedies’ consist of water and/or alcohol, with no therapeutic substances.

          Since the time of Hahnemann, scientific knowledge and technology was developed enormously. One could understand people in the pre-technological era coming up with theories about disease and cure – but it’s difficult to understand how that belief could be held by people know, when we have electron microscopy and MRI – we know how the body functions down to a sub-cellular level.

          It;s like trying to deny that electricity is more effective than dung-fueled fires, while commenting on the internet. Cow dung has been used for milenna to start open cooking fires, and continues to be used in areas of extreme poverty. That doesn’t mean it;s better than an electric or gas stove.

          • RJ Herrmann
            14/06/2016

            I am not following your reasoning, Sue. You compare poverty to technology. One does not necessarily infer the lack of the other. When you say ‘no therapeutic substances’ you are talking placebo? Placebo effect resides in the patient, not the medicine. Your points are not clear.

    • Umm...
      07/06/2016

      Oh my god. Seriously? Please tell me you aren’t an actual health professional with actual patients. While you’re telling us about your million online degrees from fake universities, maybe you can outline the scientific basis for homeopathy without using the phrase “magical water”

  3. Karl Landers
    01/06/2016

    Can anyone explain to me why the British Pharmacopoeia 2012 Vol IV (p3771-3809) has a chapter dedicated to “Homeopathic Preparations” explaining their use, materials used, dosage forms, methods of preparation, calculation methods etc. and appropriate full monographs?

    It also has a full chapter on “Herbal Drugs” (p3449-3769) – yes over 300 pages with definitions, how to test and full monograph details too. Is it because they don’t work? Volume IV 2012 is “published on the recommendation of the commission on Human Medicines pursuant to the medicines Act 1968 and notified in draft to the European Commission in accordance with directive 98/34/EEC”

    Let’s not forget where pharmacy practice originated from. We used plant extracts, herbs, and tinctures and made them into medicinal preparations. (No double blind clinical trials then) Over time we were able to manufacture the active and make convenient dosage forms. We even modified the actives ‘to make them better’ and patented them too and then sold the medicine in a 28 pack of convenient capsules! Our current pharmaceutical industry owes its roots to Pharmacognosy. Do we remember that word? I studied it during my pharmacy degree. Is not part of the pharmacy teaching today?

    Before ‘knee jerk’ responses are put in place I would suggest we all look at ALL the facts before coming to flawed conclusions (as we are trained to do!). It might surprise you what will find!

    • Ian Carr
      02/06/2016

      Yes. I can explain. The reasons are historic. The BP was an instrument for identification and standardization, of quality control in preparation. It has never addressed issues such as safety or efficacy!

      • Karl Landers
        02/06/2016

        Well Ian I’m not too sure what history books you read but let me quote from the official BP
        website https://www.pharmacopoeia.com/what-is-the-bp

        “The two pharmacopoeias that have legal status within the UK are the British Pharmacopoeia (BP), including the BP (Veterinary), and the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.). The BP provides the only comprehensive collection of authoritative official standards for UK pharmaceutical substances and medicinal products…”

        The last few words are quite significant:”…Pharmaceutical substances and medicinal products”. Does that not mean homeopathic and naturopathic products are medicinal products according to the BP?

        And…”published on the recommendation of the commission on Human Medicines pursuant to the medicines Act 1968″ .
        Why would the commission on Human Medicines publish this if they were not considered
        medicines?

        • Ian Carr
          03/06/2016

          As I said, the BP does not even start to address safety or efficacy. It is about standardization and purity. I will agree that homeopathic medicines can be pure — so pure, in fact, that they are equivalent to distilled water. Without rushing to my own BP copy, I think you will find standards for all sorts of toxic things like arsenic, cyanide etc which are not considered safe medicines.

          • Karl Landers
            03/06/2016

            Hi Ian, I am glad that you do agree that homeopathic medicines do exist and can be pure. But your statement that they are equivalent to distilled water unfortunately shows a lack of understanding of Homeopathic medicines. (Think ‘Avogadro’s number” 6 x 10 to the power of 23)
            You may also have to look at your own BP copy. There are no “standards for all sorts of toxic things like arsenic, cyanide etc” to be used as medicines. However there is a mention of Arsenious trioxide and arsenite being used as reagents though. I can’t find anything on cyanide…

          • Sue Ieraci
            14/06/2016

            Karl – Ian is right – the BP is a manufacturing standard, not a textbook of pharmacology. When pharmaceutical production was still a cottage industry, there needed to be a standard “recipe”.

            Similarly, there used to be handbooks for servicing your car, which had all sorts of standards for different mechanical aspects. Cars are now much more sophisticated and computerised, and beyond the ken of the amateur. They are also better and safer. Meanwhile, donkey-carts and hand-held wooden carts – used for milenna – continue to be used in impoverished communities. They are neither more effective nor safer than modern motor vehicles.

          • RJ Herrmann
            14/06/2016

            What? No proof?

        • RJ Herrmann
          14/06/2016

          Well said, Karl. Denying homeopathy is not medicine is like closing the barn door after the horse has bolted. Homeopathy is widespread and widely practiced because it’s been proven time and again. Those that can’t keep up need to bow out.

  4. Michael Holloway
    01/06/2016

    All advertising for these herbal, ‘natural’ medicines sold at astronomical prices should be stopped. Particularly by pharmacists.
    If there is no proof / evidence that they work as their outlandish claims state then remove them!
    It’s interesting that despite all this comment about pharmacists and pharmacy journals, that the AJP have an advertisement for a herbal product immediately opposite this forum… “Herbal power that works !”

    • RJ Herrmann
      02/06/2016

      Oh, I see, thousands of years of herbal medicine, a couple of decades of imitation of herbal medicine, in the form of patented drugs, with horrible side effects and outrageous prices that are bankrupting everyone, but you complain about the ones that actually work?

      • Sue Ieraci
        14/06/2016

        The ones that ‘actually work’ are called pharmaceeuticals. Many pharmaceuticals were initially plant-derived, but purification and standardisation of dose has made them much more reliable and effective. With effectiveness comes the risk of side-effects. Only inert substances have no side-effects.

        The fact that something has been improved doesn’t make it bad. Aren’t we all here communicating on the internet, even though there have been thousands of years of talking directly to each other? The internet has improved the effectiveness of communication, just like pharmacology has improved the effeictiveness of medicines. That’s human progress.

        • BBF
          14/06/2016

          And you include the recalls, I assume? More in the last 15 years than all the past decades? Pharmaceuticals are driven by profit, not the desire to help. Side effects such as vomiting when one has too much foxglove is better than dying from having too much digoxin, don’t you agree, Sue?

        • RJ Herrmann
          14/06/2016

          Medicines that actually work have existed for centuries. Pharmaceuticals are the new kids on the block. Give me time tested medicine any day.

  5. BBF
    02/06/2016

    Australia is moving back into the Dark Ages along with the Flat Earth Society. Shame on the shills and astroturfers that get paid to do this dirtywork.

  6. RJ Herrmann
    02/06/2016

    It’s a pity they call it science when it’s actually motivated by greedy self-interest; big pharma pays people to harass those that publish anything that will take a bite out of their profits. Natural medicine will win out because it works, and there is proof, even if the s(k)epics refuse to acknowledge it. Truth stands the test of time.

  7. Melissa
    04/06/2016

    Could this article please acknowledge that it is discussion is about ‘homeopathy’ and not ‘naturopathy’?!The two approaches are not one and the same and this article demonstrates a total lack of understanding of the two modalities. Naturopathy includes evidence based approaches (nutrition, diet and lifestyle management, longer appointment times, patient directed care) and some non-evidence based practices. Lets stop dragging the term naturopathy down along with ‘supplements’ and unrestrained industry promotion of their products. Most naturopathic practitioners (those in a clinical setting) operate safely within their scope of practice. My vote is to take naturopaths out of pharmacies as they are only placed their to give advice so ‘practitioner only’ companies can sell more of their products! Naturopaths are still metaphorically being ‘burnt at the stake’ – used (placed in pharmacys to sell products) and abused (by FSM and other critics) with no acknowledgement of the good work they do. No profession is perfect – naturopathy needs a lot of work – but let’s not pretend pharmacy or medicine are perfect either!

  8. Majik Stasia
    06/06/2016

    Naturopathy and homeopathy work. End of story. Going to a doc for broken bones, surgery or a “quick fix” is needed for people who want to continue to eat crap and not change their lifestyle.. a lot of people are lazy so drugs are needed. Considering there is scientific data out there with natural medicine that works, both health modalities should work together. Instead you have arrogent half wits with no knowledge on natural medicine spewing their “opinion” on natural medicine when there are so many people out there who have used it and it does work. They dont teach nutrition to doctors. And they should. Because everything leads back to nutrients or a lack thereof in the body.

    • GaryLayng
      07/06/2016

      References, please. I know of no peer-reviewed study demonstrating any efficiency and efficacy of either homeopathy or of naturopathy stronger than the Placebo Effect.

    • Sue Ieraci
      14/06/2016

      Imagine if the conventional medical system only looked after ppl with broken bones,or those needing surgery, or a “quick fix” for people with poor lifestyle choices.

      What would we do if, despite making all the best lifestyle choices, we had obstructed labour, or our baby got bronchiolitis, or our wounds got infected, or our inherited asthma made it impossible to breathe.

      Call in the naturopath and homeopath with their vitamins and magic water…..and…?

      • RJ Herrmann
        14/06/2016

        Yes, actually. Naturopaths and homeopaths do ALL those things, Sue. You need to read more.

Leave a reply