Criticism is mounting in Australia about the sale of low-evidence complementary medicines in pharmacies.
An ABC radio report last month censured the Australian Pharmacy Guild for its lax regulation of the sale of dubious complementary or alterative treatments. Reporter Ann Arnold interviewed leading pharmacist Adam Phillips, who is indignant about the widespread sale of products like ‘Liver Detox’ and Vitamin B3 tablets that claim to ‘release energy from the blood’.
In March The Medical Journal of Australia published an opinion piece by academic physician Dr. Edzard Ernst, in which Ernst criticized the rebranding of ‘complementary medicine’ as integrative medicine’:
“It has been claimed that integrative medicine is merely a rebranding exercise for alternative medicine, and a critical assessment of the treatments that integrative clinics currently offer confirms this suspicion.”
Ernst slammed the field of integrative medicine, calling it both unscientific and unethical:
“Integrative medicine is an ill-conceived concept which turns out to be largely about the promotion and use of unproven or disproven therapies. It thus is in conflict with the principles of both evidence-based medicine and medical ethics.”
The MJA went on to publish a poll of readers in which 79% of respondents called the sale of low-evidence alternative medicines “unethical”.
In a scathing article, Chris Brooker – editor of the Australian Journal of Pharmacy Daily – suggested that the complementary and alternative medicines industry violated basic principles of commercial pharmaceutical ethics.
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