A new pharmacy code of ethics will clear the way for pharmacies to sell homeopathic products.
The Pharmacy Council’s previous code required that credible evidence of efficacy exist for any products sold at pharmacies, however, this rule was often ignored by pharmacists.
So rather than enforce the rule, they are just getting rid of it!
The new code, which comes into effect March 12, does not require credible evidence for what it refers to as complementary and alternative medicines, but does require pharmacy staff tell customers if a product lacks scientific evidence of efficacy.
As if they will! “Pardon me sir/madam, but before you pay for that did you know that there is no proof it works at all – but we are happy to sell it to you.”
The Code of Ethics 2018 update came after consumer advocacy group, the Society for Science Based Healthcare (SSBHC), complained when they discovered homeopathic products were being sold in pharmacies in an apparent breach of the industry’s own code of ethics.
The Society’s chairperson, Mark Hanna, said a parent contacted him after realising they had been sold “crap” by the pharmacy and had thrown the homeopathic product in the bin.
So the response to a complaint that a pharmacy breached the code of ethics was to change the code of ethics!
The New Zealand Medical Association’s (NZMA) chairperson, Dr Kate Baddock, made a submission to the Pharmacy Council against pharmacies selling complementary and alternative medicines during the code’s review process.
She said the Pharmacy Council has created a document the NZMA is disappointed with.
“The real issue here is you can have what is a regulated medicine, say for example omeprazole [a medicine for heartburn] sitting on the shelf next to shark oil. What happens is the presence of the omeprazole gives legitimacy to the shark oil.
“As long as you have pharmacists stocking products like that side by side you’re going to have an unsuspecting public believing them to be equally important, equally effective, equally efficacious and equally having scientific basis for them being used.”