Naturopathy: ‘If it wasn’t so serious it would be funny.’

spoonful of vitamins

Taree pharmacist and Friends of Science in Medicine member Ian Carr is stepping up a campaign against naturopathy in pharmacy, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Reporter Jane Hansen spoke to Carr, who has written in the past for the AJP criticising homoeopathy, as well as Blackmores’ Lesley Braun and the Pharmacy Guild’s Greg Turnbull, after Blackmores advertised last week for naturopaths to work in Sydney pharmacies as part of an “in-store health and wellbeing team”.

Carr told Hansen that he plans to campaign against the placement of naturopaths in pharmacies because “its message is contrary to the dispensing side”.

“I think there’s a real undercurrent, a lot of consumers out there who want to be dealt with in an honest and science-based manner,” Carr told the AJP today.

“But the general population’s level of scientific literacy is not high, and that’s where part of the problem comes in. A lot of people wouldn’t know the difference between an anecdote and a clinical trial.”

He says Friends of Science in Medicine has been working to discourage the promotion of certain complementary and alternative therapies in pharmacy for some time, particularly homeopathy.

“We put a letter to the Australian Pharmacy Leaders’ Forum about that, and got knocked back, but they eventually took the issue of homeopathy to their meeting and put out a letter confirming that they don’t support homeopathy in pharmacy. That was after the NHMRC put out their absolutely unequivocal statement, too,” says Carr.

“So we’re sort of chipping away and getting there.”

Carr told the AJP that he does not understand why pharmacies can employ naturopaths and refer their patients to them without close supervision, and still receive QCPP accreditation.

“You’ve got the dispensary up one end and people getting their important prescription medicines… but I honestly cannot imagine, if you then forward them to the naturopath to talk about complementary medicines, what they’re going to be told.

“Are they going to have their eyes read with iridology, or have their blood scanned and be told there’s all sorts of things wriggling around in there? If it wasn’t so serious it would be funny.

“There’s a huge market at the moment for this acid/alkali diet. This is where they assess your current health and tell you you’ve got to start eating more acidic or alkaline foods.

“Anybody with a background in science will tell you there’s a thing called homoestasis where if you eat acidic food your body will balance it out.

“I don’t understand why a chain would be ticked off for quality assurance when what to me would be a basic element of the code of ethics is not being adhered to.”

Carr says that he suspects that naturopathy is coming to the fore as pharmacies strive to improve the performance of their front of shop sections, as dispensary profits decline thanks to price disclosure.

“So there will be ongoing campaigns by myself and other friends of science in medicine members, because I’m personally feeling that we are degrading our own profession at a time when we’ve never been better educated as far as pharmacists are concerned,” says Carr.

“If I was a pharmacist who employed a naturopath, I would be ensuring, quality-control-wise, that the advice they were giving was put in writing, and I would be looking over their shoulder for everything that they were recommending, if they were using my premises in order to further their practice.”

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