It’s up to individual pharmacists

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has told GPs to stop prescribing homeopathic remedies and says pharmacists must also stop stocking such products for the same sort of reason they shouldn’t prescribe/stock candy or kale or blueberries as medicine.

The official body for Australian GPs has asked pharmacists to strip their shelves of homeopathic products and warned doctors not to prescribe them because they do nothing.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has formally recommended GPs stop prescribing homeopathic remedies and says pharmacists must also stop stocking such products because there is no evidence they are effective in any way.

The RACGP’s position statement on homeopathy, released on Wednesday, follows recent findings by the National Health and Medical Research Council that homeopathy produces no health benefits over and above a placebo.

Homeopathic “remedies” are shelved in drugstores – at least in this country – next to actual remedies, with nothing at all to indicate that they are just pretend. People who don’t know better have no way of knowing that homeopathic “remedies” are not remedies at all. The whole thing is utterly fraudulent and I have never understood why it’s allowed.

Dr Jones said the lack of evidence about any benefits from homeopathy must prompt doctors and pharmacists to turn their backs on it.

“Given this lack of evidence, it does not make sense for homeopathy products to be prescribed by GPs or sold, recommended or supported by pharmacists,” he said.

RACGP noted all taxpayers were funding homeopathy through the federal government’s private health insurance rebate.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia says it’s up to individual pharmacists to decide if they’ll stop selling homeopathic remedies branded useless by doctors.

“Branded” useless? As if it’s just an epithet, or insult, or opinion?

And why is it up to individual pharmacists to decide if they’ll stop selling fake medicine labeled as medicine? That’s fraud.

Oh well. Fraudulent sneakers or DVDs or tennis balls can do serious harm, but fraudulent medicine is no big deal.


  1. iknklast says

    It can be even worse, though this didn’t happen in Australia, but in Oklahoma. I was looking for a remedy for poison ivy; the pharmacist actively DIRECTED me toward a medicine clearly marked as homeopathic. I expressed my skepticism. She shrugged, and told me she had customers who said it worked. Don’t pharmacists take classes that allow them to understand how medical research is done, and why we don’t just say, “Well, I have customers that swear it works.”

  2. otrame says

    I once found a brand of eye drops that were really soothing, lasted a long time and really helped with my allergies/dry eye syndrome. I was delighted. Then I saw the “homeopathic” on it, and cursed, because I took a vow a long time ago to never buy things with homeopathic on them, even if they actually work. Putting homeopathic on eyedrops that had about 8 ingredients other than water is not only pandering, it is a damned lie. So I make do with the next best. I refuse to encourage the pandering even a little bit, if I can help it.

  3. johnthedrunkard says

    The 1938 Food and Drug act was largely written by Royal Copeland. Who just happened to be one of the last Homeopathic MDs in the U.S.

    Not only were homeopathic potions insulated from critique. The homeopathic label became a licence to sell snake oil that wasn’t ‘homeopathic’ by any stretch of the imagination.

  4. says

    I would love to see this happen in the US. Alas, US law — signed by Bill Clinton — says that quack nostrums can be sold as “supplements” without any kind of evidence that they are either safe or effective.

  5. Josh, Official SpokesGay says

    The article makes this sound very weighty and momentous. “Recommendations” are not those things. Legal restrictions that are aggressively enforced are the only thing that will stop this.

  6. rjw1 says

    “…pharmacists must also stop stocking such products because there is no evidence they are effective in any way.”

    Yeah sure, pharmacists are both scientifically trained dispensers of medicines and capitalist store owners and of course, homeopathic ‘remedies’ and other ACMs are nice little earners. So unless there’s state or federal legislation, it’s unlikely the situation will change.

  7. John Morales says


    rjw1, your intended snark falls flat; pharmacists don’t prescribe medicines, they’re retailers who sell products, amongst which are medicines.

    So unless there’s state or federal legislation, it’s unlikely the situation will change.

    I entirely concur with that.

    For true homeopathic remedies, the active ingredients list should be true to the product offered: “water”.

  8. chigau (違う) says

    In Canada some pharmacists can prescribe some medications.
    You (generic) will have to google it for yourselves because the rules vary by Province and Territory and are … arcane.

  9. rjw1 says

    @9 John Morales

    I wrote “pharmacists are both scientifically trained dispensers of medicines..” not “prescribers”.
    So my snark is still proudly erect.
    Impressive ‘own goal.’

  10. chrislawson says

    As a fellow of the RACGP, I’m extremely proud that they’ve taken this stand after many years of not addressing it. An observation for those of you outside the medical field or Australia (I don’t know how applicable this is in other countries)…

    Most pharmacists I know dislike stocking all the natural remedy stuff. The problem is that, much as I love Australia’s socialised medical system, one of its deep flaws is that governments keep trying to save money in the system where it’s easier to make cuts rather than where it’s sensible to make cuts.

    One of these flawed money-saving approaches is that the government has completely gutted the payment pharmacists receive for dispensing prescriptions, so instead the pharmacies make their money off their retail sales — which is why our pharmacies are full of dodgy remedies, perfumes, cosmetics, gifts, etc. Australian pharmacies can only just tick over on the income from doing what they’re supposed to do — that is, give people health advice and dispense prescriptions while performing the essential task of checking that the prescription is correct and safe — and the reason why owning a pharmacy is lucrative is that the prescriptions act like a loss-leader that attracts customers into the shop where money can be made from impulse buys.

    The allowed markups for PBS medication (that is, most of the drugs that are prescribed in Australia) run like this:

    Up to and including $30.00 15%
    Between $30.01 and $45.00 $4.50
    Between $45.01 and $180.00 10%
    Between $180.01 and $450.00 $18.00
    Between $450.01 and $1,750.00 4%
    Over $1,750.00 $70.00

    For prescriptions the pharmacy also gets a dispensing fee of around $7. So while the pharmacy is earning money from this, it’s hardly lucrative, especially since some drugs require refrigeration or other special storage conditions and all of them require extensive record-keeping and frequent audits. I’m not trying to make pharmacy owners seem like poor downtrodden proles as they earn a pretty good income and the markups listed above may not be generous but aren’t subsistence-level either…but the current funding model encourages retail income over professional service income, and I think that’s a mistake.

  11. rjw1 says

    @12 chrislawson,

    Very interesting information. Given that our current government is infested with neoliberal ideologues, the situation might get even worse for pharmacists and perhaps even GPs.

  12. says

    Legal restrictions that are aggressively enforced are the only thing that will stop this.

    Or remove the protection from liability. Let anyone who wants to, sue the natural wellness clowns, then let them prove in court that their stuff works. That would additionally have the benefit of exposing a lot of recipes in discovery. There have been plenty of cases of “remedies” that are just alcohol and water, but some have actual medicines in them, including products for livestock, which are not certified for human use. I had a friend who was using a “natural remedy” and when they opened the bottle I could immediately recognize a whiff of DMSO. No, really.

  13. PatrickG says

    So my snark is still proudly erect.

    If that lasts more than four hours…

    More seriously, I agree with your “dispensary” snark, whatever the state of rigidity. Some pharmacists are highly-trained professionals. Others… not so much.


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