PSA recently urged all community pharmacy banner and buyer groups to take a stand against the sale of homeopathy products by refusing to stock, promote, recommend or market them.
The call to action was issued via an open letter from PSA National President Dr Chris Freeman addressed to major banner and buying groups.
The move is aligned with the Choosing Wisely recommendations, a joint initiative between PSA and NPS MedicineWise, that was announced in December 2018. Pharmacists are recommended not to ‘promote or provide homeopathic products as there is no reliable evidence of efficacy. Where patients choose to access homeopathic treatments, health professionals should discuss the lack of benefit with patients.’
Dr Freeman said that several banner and/or buying groups for community pharmacies continue to include homeopathic products in their planograms, catalogues, specials, social media communications, and allocated stock ranges.
He cautioned that many patients may not be aware that there is no evidence to support the efficacy of homeopathic products to either prevent or treat conditions. It is possible that the public believes the contrary and that by making homeopathy available to patients, pharmacies could be seen as advocating for the products.
But by opting to use these products, patient health could be at risk, as it could mean they reject or delay treatments that do have evidence behind them.
Long before the establishment of Choosing Wisely, PSA cautioned against the sale of homeopathic products in The PSA Code of Ethics for Pharmacists, which is recognised by the Pharmacy Board of Australia.1
The code makes clear that pharmacists should only, ‘supply or promote any medicine, complementary medicine, herbal remedy or other healthcare product where there is credible evidence of efficacy and the benefit of use outweighs the risk.’
In its statement on homeopathy, the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) also expects that the treatments available to the Australian public will be evidence-based.2
Dr Freeman said that it’s important for pharmacists to set the right tone to ensure patient safety.
‘I congratulate the community pharmacists who have made the decision to remove these products from their shelves, or are planning to do so. We need to lead by example so patients continue to see community pharmacy as a health destination that provides the best possible evidence-based care.
‘I look forward to community pharmacy groups committing to ensure patients receive robust health advice and are not misled into believing homeopathic products have any evidence of benefit.’
- Pharmaceutical Society of Australia. 2017. Code of Ethics for Pharmacists. At: https://www.psa.org.au/membership/ethics/
- National Health and Medical Research Council. 2015. NHMRC Statement on homeopathy and NHMRC Information paper – Evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating health conditions. At: https://www.nhmrc.gov.au/guidelines-publications/cam02