Sale of complementary medicines unethical: Australian doctors

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.


MORE ON THESE TOPICS | pharmaceutical ethics, professional ethics, public policy

This article is published by Xavier Symons and BioEdge under a Creative Commons licence. You may republish it or translate it free of charge with attribution for non-commercial purposes following these guidelines. If you teach at a university we ask that your department make a donation. Commercial media must contact us for permission and fees. Some articles on this site are published under different terms.

 Search BioEdge

 Subscribe to BioEdge newsletter
rss Subscribe to BioEdge RSS feed

comments powered by Disqus