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When will pharmacists stop selling homeopathic remedies?

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Edzard Ernst

I HAVE argued for many years that pharmacists should not be selling or promoting homeopathic and other remedies for which there is no proof of efficacy – I last published my view on this matter a few weeks ago. I would go another step further and remind pharmacists who sell homeopathic remedies to the unsuspecting public that it is unethical to pretend they are more than placebos.
Despite my insistence and despite the fact that many agree with me (at least privately), there are precious few pharmacists who actually do something meaningful about the current situation. And there is very little visible change: in the UK, it is currently hard to find a pharmacy where homeopathic remedies are not on the shelves, and certainly all the major chains seem to put money before health care ethics.
I am, of course, speaking about the situation in the UK, France, Germany and some other European countries. Perhaps elsewhere things are different?

The Australian study that prompted the latest round of interest concluded:
“Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, NHMRC concludes that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective.Homeopathy should not be used to treat health conditions that are chronic, serious, or could become serious. People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness. People who are considering whether to use homeopathy should first get advice from a registered health practitioner.
Those who use homeopathy should tell their health practitioner and should keep taking any prescribed treatments.
The National Health and Medical Research Council expects that the Australian public will be offered treatments and therapies based on the best available evidence.”
Why are the European professional bodies of pharmacy doing so little about this ongoing breach of their own ethical codes?

Edzard Ernst MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd is Emeritus Professor at Exeter University. His research focuses on critical evaluation of alternative medicines to provide objective evidence and reliable information.
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