Pharmacists have a duty to tell patients homeopathy is not effective

Pharmacists have a duty to tell patients that homeopathic products and treatments are not effective, the BHA has stated in its response to a consultation on new guidance for pharmacists. The draft guidance was produced by the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland, in response to recommendations by the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee following its inquiry on the use of homeopathy in the health service earlier this year.

Naomi Phillips, BHA Head of Public Affairs, said, ‘No pharmacies in the UK should be selling or labelling homeopathic products as effective. As trusted medical experts at point of delivery, pharmacists have a duty to explain to patients that there is no clinical or scientific evidence to support claims that homeopathy is effective. They should also explain the potentially great health risks associated with how some people take homeopathic products, for instance where someone chooses to take homeopathic products as alternative “medicine”, rather than supplementary to medically recommended and effective treatments.

‘We particularly support the recommendation in the guidance that there are clear signs on shelves where homeopathic products are being sold, advising patients to seek further advice from the pharmacist. This alerts the patient that there are issues related to homeopathic products that they should be informed of, by an expert, before they purchase any products. Increasing patient awareness and choice in this way is to be welcomed.

Ms Phillips continued, ‘It is outrageous that NHS is funding the provision and testing of treatments that have no evidential basis in their claims of effectiveness. Public policy should be rational and evidence-based and the government should be ensuring that public funds are spent on treatments that have been proven to work, and on research that is backed up by scientific evidence. To do otherwise is irrational, unethical and a waste of public money.’

Notes

Read the BHA’s response to the consultation on guidance for pharmacists in Northern Ireland.

You can make your own response until Friday 18th June.

For further comment or information, contact Naomi Phillips, 07540 257101, 020 7079 3585.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee report is available here.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief.