Complementary medicines in pharmacies in the spotlight

16 Feb 2017

Consumer advocacy group Choice has revealed this week that nearly a third of Australian pharmacists are recommending complementary medicine products that are not evidence-based. The finding triggers concerns that pharmacists have a conflict of interest between profit and best practice, a concern the AMA has been highlighting for many years.

Choice’s investigation, which sent ‘mystery shoppers’ into 240 pharmacies across Australia  to ask for advice about feeling stressed, was explored in the ABC program Four Corners this week. The program asks why Australian pharmacies are increasingly relying on the sale of complementary medicines with often unproven benefits including vitamins, minerals and herbal remedies.

According to Choice, placement in pharmacies of products that lack evidence of effectiveness gives them undeserved credibility, potentially misleading consumers about their likely effectiveness while undermining the professional integrity of pharmacists. 

"When we look at the most trusted professions, year on year on year, I'm proud to say that at the top is doctors, nurses and pharmacists. So that respect has been hard won," said AMA President Dr Michael Gannon.

"That's put at risk if they're being seen to promote treatments that increasingly the average consumer recognises might be a load of rubbish," he said.