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Dear Pharmacists: Stop Selling Snake Oil

A national science advocacy organization is urging pharmacists to be worthy of the trust that customers have placed in them to guide them in their health decisions by steering patients away from useless fake medicine in the form of homeopathy. The Center for Inquiry is asking the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners and its member organizations to ensure that these fraudulent products are treated as the snake oil they are.

"When they're sick, American consumers turn to their pharmacists for their training, professionalism, and their personal connection to their communities," said Nick Little, CFI vice president and general counsel. "One out of three customers suffering from an illness places themselves in the knowing hands of their pharmacist to tell them what treatment they should take. That is an incredible statement of trust in pharmacists' expertise, and it is critical that they never betray that trust by recommending phony products that, at best, have no effect of any kind whatsoever."

Homeopathy is an 18th-century pseudoscience premised on the absurd, unscientific notion that a substance that causes a particular symptom can alleviate that symptom when it is diluted to the point that it no longer exists, save for the "memory" nonsensically alleged to be retained by water molecules. It is established scientific fact that homeopathic treatments have no effect whatsoever beyond that of a placebo.

Though homeopathy does not and cannot treat any condition or symptom, it is unscrupulously marketed and sold by drug retailers such as CVS and Walmart, who pocket billions of dollars every year from deceiving their customers. In its letter to the JCPP, CFI says, "Pharmacists have an ethical and moral obligation to ensure that patients are safe, not a profit source."

Buying homeopathic products is more than a waste of money, says CFI, which tells the JCPP that by recommending homeopathy to customers, "they are directing them to an under-regulated, under-policed, potentially toxic substance for the patient, or, worse, for their child. Such behavior cannot fit within the JCPP's Pharmacists' Patient Care Process."

CFI says the solution is simple: Don't recommend homeopathy to patients, and whenever possible, inform them of what homeopathy actually is and that it simply doesn't work.

"It is critical that your members use their position wisely, and that they in no situation recommend homeopathy to their patients," writes CFI. "Pharmacists are in a unique and ever important position to ensure the health and safety of us all by ensuring these products are treated as the shams they are."

The Center for Inquiry is currently engaged in two consumer-protection lawsuits against retailers Walmart and CVS for misrepresenting homeopathy's safety and efficacy by selling homeopathic products right alongside real, evidence-based medicine on its shelves and its online store, with no distinction made between them, under signs indicating them as treatments for particular ailments.

Members organizations of the Joint Commission of Pharmacy Practitioners:

* Academy of Managed Care Pharmacy (AMCP)

* American Association of Colleges of Pharmacy (AACP)

* American College of Apothecaries (ACA)

* American College of Clinical Pharmacy (ACCP)

* Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE)

* American Pharmacists Association (APhA)

* American Society of Consultant Pharmacists (ASCP)

* American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP)

* College of Psychiatric/Neurologic Pharmacists (CPNP)

* Hematology/Oncology Pharmacy Association (HOPA)

* National Association of Boards of Pharmacy (NABP)

* National Community Pharmacists Association (NCPA)

* National Alliance of State Pharmacy Associations (NASPA)


Comments welcome.


Posted on February 24, 2021

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