Pharmacies selling ‘snake oil,’ say Kiwi GPs


Like their Australian counterparts, doctors across the Tasman are taking aim at pharmacy over complementary medicines

The New Zealand Medical Association had expressed concern in Pharmacy Today over the Pharmacy Council’s revised code of ethics, which it says was not strong enough in discouraging the sale of CMs.

Medical Association chair Kate Baddock has now told Radio New Zealand’s Nine to Noon program that the revised code could legitimise what she calls “snake oil”.

The revised code would remove the need for unregulated CMs to meet a “credible level of efficacy” requirement before it could be “ethical” for pharmacies to sell CMs.

“A pharmacist is seen as a trusted, trained, ethical health professional,” Dr Baddock told Nine to Noon.

“If they put snake oil right next to omeprazole, there is understandably in the patient’s mind a legitimacy to that snake oil because the pharmacist is selling it.

“If [the patient] bought it on a stall down the road they might go ‘okay, buyer beware, it’s snake oil’.

“But if it’s sitting next to omeprazole in a pharmacy there is a legitimacy, a credibility, which it is given simply by virtue of being there,” she said.

New Zealand Pharmacy Guild president Graham Blanchard said there was no harm in trying natural products, though more data was needed to prove their efficacy.

In Australia the RACGP has stated in its response to the King Review Interim Paper that it wants to break the “retail-medicine link” in pharmacy, especially regarding CMs.

“When it comes to complementary medicines and homeopathy we would argue that taxpayers’ money should only be used to support access to evidence based medicines,” said president Dr Bastian Seidel.

“The option presented in the interim report to move non-evidence based complementary and alternative medicines to a separate area in a pharmacy simply isn’t enough to protect patients from being recommended unnecessary medicines.

“We would argue that supplements that are not supported by high-quality evidence should not be sold from the same location as evidence‑based, taxpayer-subsidised medicine,” he says.

Previous ASMI defends vitamin B
Next Anti-vax doctors under investigation

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