Professional Guidance for Pharmacists in Northern Ireland

On the provision of  homeopathic products within a pharmacy

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee published a report in February 2010     on    the  use   of  homeopathy      within  the   health  service  .  Amongst     its  recommendations   and  observations were that, as pharmacists should ensure they “provide scientifically accurate advice  to patients” and there being, in the Committee’s view, no scientific or clinical evidence to support omeopathy, the only advice a pharmacist could reasonably give about such products is that they  are placebos.

The   Committee   did   not,   however,   advocate   the   removal   of   homeopathic   products   from   within   pharmacies, but instead expressed its view that “Although the availability of homeopathic products  in pharmacies could be interpreted by patients as an endorsement of efficacy, in our view it would    be pointless to seek to remove homeopathic products from sale in pharmacies. Many pharmacies sell ranges of non-evidence-based products and homeopathic products are easily available over  the internet in any case. We consider that the way to deal with the sale of homeopathic products  is   to   remove   any   medical   claim   and   any   implied   endorsement   of   efficacy   by   the   MHRA other  than where its evidential standards used to assess conventional medicines have been met and  for the labelling to make it explicit that there is no scientific evidence that homeopathic products   wrk beyond the placebo effect.”

This    guidance    has   been    produced     in  light  of  the  Science    and   Technology     Committee’s    recommendations, existing Standards and Guidance from the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern  Ireland , and the   considerations   of the   Standards, Legislation and   Practice Committee,  and the   Public Forum, of the Pharmaceutical Society of Northern Ireland.

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