Pharmacists 'break ethical code' on homeopathy

UK pharmacists are breaking their own ethical code on a daily basis when selling homeopathic medicines, a leading expert in complementary medicine has warned.

The ethical code states that pharmacists who sell homeopathic remedies, herbal medicines or other complementary therapies, must assist patients in making informed decisions by providing them with the necessary information.

But in an open letter to the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at the Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, Devon, criticises high street pharmacists for selling homeopathic remedies without informing customers that they contain no biologically active agents and are no more effective than sugar pills.

In the letter, Professor Ernst says that ‘customers are frequently misinformed by promotional material available in UK pharmacies and verbal advice given by pharmacists. Thus pharmacists breach their own mandatory ethical code on a daily basis’.

Professor Ernst calls for ‘urgent action’ to make sure that the ethical standards are followed by high street chemists.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

Royal Pharmaceutical Society 2008

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