Alternative medicines are dangerous. Complementary medicines are dangerous. The thought patterns surrounding them are dangerous; homeopathy has an association with anti-vaccine stances. Pharmacy’s engagement in homeopathy is in the main through the stocking of a side line of homeopathic products, rather than full homeopathic practice.
In the UK this leads to controversies and campaigns, such as the mass skeptic overdose outside of Boots and the more worrying supply of homeopathic malaria prophylaxis remedies (an action that can seriously harm or kill). Pharmacy is a 4 year science based Masters level degree. Homeopathy is not compatible with this. That homeopathy continues to be sold from UK pharmacies is embarrassing. I’ve talked to senior pharmacy voices, who have had pharmacists’ involvement with homeopathy given to them in high level professional meetings as a reason not to develop new NHS clinical services in community pharmacy. This tweet distills the problem, using a tag line the profession itself has used:
Pharmacists call themselves “The scientist on the high street”. Quackery will make them money, and flush their reputation down the loo. https://t.co/S62PDnq9iz
— ben goldacre (@bengoldacre) June 15, 2017
The sentiment of this is correct, although with the exception of purely homeopathic pharmacies the amount of money being made is small. The majority of pharmacy income does not come from the front of house, but from NHS work. The tragedy of throwing away your professions’ reputation for such small gains.
My anecdotal understanding is pharmacists don’t believe it works, would never actively recommend it, and wouldn’t stock it if they had professional control of the pharmacy they work in (not all pharmacists own the businesses they work in, they are employees). Pharmacists in medicines management roles have been heavily involved in the decline in NHS prescribing of homeopathy. A well known pharmacy chain said ‘we sell homeopathic remedies because they sell, not because they work’, but we have never really known what the opinions of pharmacists are.
After surveying pharmacists in the UK and New Zealand, I now have some data on the views of pharmacists towards homeopathy, and its regulation. I’ll be presenting on this at the International Social Pharmacy Workshop. I’ll save the details for my presentation.
They aren’t fans though.
Picture (cropped) by Philippa Witts under a Attribution-Non Commercial 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC 2.0).