Conflict of interest for pharmacists selling supplements
Pharmacists under commercial pressure to sell unproven vitamins and other complementary medicines have a conflict of interest between their professional calling and retail imperatives, the AMA has said.
The AMA told the Federal Government Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation that while pharmacists have a valuable contribution to make to improve the health of patients, this is being undermined by the focus in many pharmacies on retail sales.
In its submission to the Review, the AMA wrote that pharmacists’ expertise and training are “underutilised in a commercial pharmacy environment where they are distracted by retail imperatives, including the sale of complementary medicines that have no basis in evidence”.
“It would be difficult for anyone to argue that there is no inherent conflict of interest in this situation,” the submission said.
The AMA also warned against an expanded role for pharmacists in primary care beyond their core education and training, saying that it was dangerous, duplicated effort, fragmented care, and should not be funded under the Community Pharmacy Agreement. Instead, the AMA has proposed that the Government support general practices to make non-prescribing pharmacists an integral part of the primary health care team.