Do you want fries with that?

The community pharmacy model is “lining up at the abattoir”, prominent GP tells his colleagues

Leading pharmacy critic, Dr Evan Ackermann has continued his critique of the current community pharmacy model, telling a GP audience that the “pharmacy industry” pursues “business gains over patient safety”.

Dr Ackermann was interviewed by Australian Doctor magazine this week, after winning the Royal Australian College of General Practice’s highest honour, the Rose-Hunt Award.

Asked why he had been such a vocal critic of pharmacy, he responded by saying “it’s been sad to watch a profession deteriorate”.

“The response of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia to criticisms of homeopathy and complementary and alternative medicine sales, and the risks of codeine are good examples,” he said.

He went on to say that pharmacy was “big money”, but that most of this did not go to the front-line pharmacists “whose professional reputation the business trades on”.

“Sacred cows of protected business practices eventually get made into burgers,” he said. “And the community pharmacy model is lining up at the abattoir.”

The Guild told AJP its position on homeopathy was that “pharmacists should not recommend or supply homeopathic products to patients to treat serious or chronic conditions”.

It also acknowledged the statement by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective.

“In circumstances where a patient is requesting a homeopathic product, pharmacists should exercise their professional judgement and inform patients regarding other treatment options including referral to another health professional if required”, a Guild spokesperson said.

In its recently updated position statement on complementary medicines, the PSA also said that it does not support the provision or promotion of homeopathy products by pharmacists given the findings of the NHMRC.

Dr Ackermann, who earlier this week said the Guild had “undue influence” over politicians, was given the award for his contributions to general practice.

“He has also been a continuous advocate for the college on a number of topics, such as the up-scheduling of codeine,” the RACGP said in a statement.

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