Under the spotlight


Pharmacy group gains Bent Spoon nomination for stocking magazine mentioning paleo diet promulgator

A pharmacy banner group has received a nomination in the 2019 Australian Skeptics ‘Bent Spoon’ awards.

The annual awards are given to “the perpetrator of the most preposterous piece of paranormal or pseudo-scientific piffle”.

Nominations are made by the public, with a winner chosen each year.

Among the first three nominations in the 2019 iteration of the award is the Good Price Pharmacy Group.

According to the nomination, Good Price Pharmacy, “gives away a magazine called Natural Health Crusader which is in reality an advertising channel for Caruso Natural Health Products.

“Although the propagation of unproven therapies alone should be enough to win them the award, they also use Pete Evans to push their products, with an interview ‘How Pete Evans Changed our Lives’,” the nomination claims.

“Evans is a supporter of the anti-vaccination movement, which worships at the feet of the discredited Dr Andrew Wakefield. Although the article does not mention vaccination, anyone reading it could come to the conclusion that Evans is a great guy and must be right about vaccination too”.

“Ironically, this magazine is placed on the counter of the pharmacy next to a poster hyping their vaccination service for influenza”, the nomination, by a Mr Geoff Andrews, states.

The other nominations so far this year are the University of Melbourne for “promoting animal acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Veterinary Medicine”, and SBS TV – Medicine or Myth, which “misinforms the public as to how products and therapies can or should be tested for safety and effectiveness”.

Responding to the nomination, Carolyn Clementson, a Good Price Pharmacy Warehouse Professional Services Pharmacist, said the group was “disappointed to hear of our nomination… and feel this nomination is unwarranted”.

“The concerns held by the consumer… appear to be primarily with Pete Evans and Caruso’s Natural Health, rather than with our pharmacy,” she said.

Ms Clementson said Good Price Pharmacy Warehouse, at times, allows suppliers to distribute printed material in their pharmacies. The publication in question, the Natural Health Crusader, was an example of this.

“Printed material supplied by third parties is made available for interested consumers to read at their discretion,” she said. “The magazine is not endorsed by Good Price Pharmacy Warehouse and is not actively distributed”.

“The article in question relates to healthy eating and the content of this article is appropriate and
valid. The magazine article at no time reference Mr Evans beliefs, and vaccination is not referred to
in any way.

We believe linking a photograph of Mr Evans to his unrelated health beliefs about vaccination is a tenuous link and suggesting that these beliefs are endorsed by Good Price Pharmacy Warehouse by association is preposterous”.

“In fact, our pharmacists play a vital role in assisting consumers to critically assess popularly held health beliefs, providing evidence-based information to help in their decision making,” she said.

Pharmacy has a history with the Bent Spoon Award. The 2006 award was given to “the pharmacists of Australia, who manage to forget their scientific training long enough to sell quackery and snake oil (such as homeopathy and ear candles) in places where consumers should expect to get real medical supplies and advice”.

In 2011, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and Blackmores were awarded a dishonorable mention “for their deal to sell unnecessary and unproven products to people who purchase proven pharmaceutical products”.

Pete Evans himself won the 2015 award “for his diet promotions, campaigns against fluoridation and support of anti-vaccinationists”.

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