Posts Tagged 'pharmacy'

Hell’s-a-poppin’ anti-homeopathy campaign stages multiple mass overdoses at pharmacy doorsteps

Johnny Carson once said that if you want to clear your system out, sit on a piece of cheese and swallow a mouse. Many would claim that a homeopath’s prescription for colonic purging would be about as helpful. In the UK activists have devised a colourful way to make their point. The Guardian reports on a series of unusual protests outside pharmacies in the UK. On Saturday, January 30, hundreds of self-proclaimed skeptics gathered to denounce the Boots chain’s hawking of homeopathic remedies, treatments that are unregulated and have little or no scientific basis. At precisely 10:23am local time protesters staged a series of mass overdoses in several cities, downing entire bottles of pills and potions to emphasize their worthlessness as medicine.

A promised sympathy demo was to have taken place in Canada, but at least according to CanadaPharmacyNews, no one seems to have braved the cold to have at it with Canuck homeopathy.

Skeptics argue that theories behind homeopathy – which relies on the extreme dilution of animal, plant, mineral as well as synthetic substances so that remedies do not contain a molecule of the original substance – are utter nonsense. Most scientists agree that the only possible impact of such remedies is as a placebo. The 10:23 Campaign, which organized the demonstrations in Britain, has created an interesting website, with a provocative collection of videos. Richard Dawkins is entertaining as he demolishes homeopathic theory in less than ten minutes.

As predicted, no ill effects were reported from consuming massive amounts of homeopathic remedies. Anti-homeopathy groups have targeted Boots because they believe its nationwide status as a long-established pharmacy retailer gives the public false confidence in such products. The sale of homeopathic pills and potions in drugstores – along with potato chips, candy and soft drinks – sends a mixed message.

The anti-homeopathy lobby believes that by diverting people with genuine complaints away from conventional medicine homeopaths can put lives at risk. They cite cases of patients who have been been warned away from vaccinations, given homeopathic preparations for serious diseases like malaria, or advised to stop taking medication for cardiac disease.

The Canadian Pharmacists Association (CPhA) has not changed its position on homeopathy since 1998, when it issued a brief on herbal and homeopathic products, making several recommendations that generally revolved around ensuring that such preparations are regulated, that their claims of efficacy are substantiated by available clinical data, and that the safety of the Canadian public is protected.

The Natural Health Products Regulations require all homeopathic medicines to have a licence before being sold in Canada. Licence holders are issued a product number which must appear on the label of their product. The Natural Health Products Directorate (NHPD), which is responsible for issuing product licences for all natural health products, uses evidence submitted by applicants to critically assess the safety, efficacy and quality of NHPs before approving them for sale in Canada.

In addition to a product licence, all businesses in Canada which manufacture, package, label and/or import homeopathic medicines for sale must also have a site licence as of January 1, 2006. For more information on Canadian regulation of natural and homeopathic products, see the Health Canada website. Despite these detailed rules, Canada’s pharmacies are full of products of questionable pedigree. Caveat emptor.

People from protest group 10.23 take a mass 'overdose' of homeopathic remedies in central London

Photo credits:

flickr photo by TW Collins
flickr photo by ten23campaign

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