You may have gathered that of late I’ve been wandering around various parts of Europe, and the last couple of weeks in Italy. As we wander the streets, it’s clear that in Europe, at least in Switzerland and Italy, ‘alternative medicine’ is alive and well, and being sold right next to the medicine that actually has been proven to work. In Italy in particular, many ‘Farmacia’ stores have and equally large shingle touting ‘Omeopatia’, also known as homeopathy, also known as completely and utter bullshit.
In one Farmacia in which I went to purchase some medicine that works, in the centre of the counter was a large display for ‘Oscillococcinum’, which is a homeopathic remedy which purports to cure the common cold, but of course has no hope of doing anything of the sort. This preparation has a fascinating history, which you can read in full here, although Mark Crislip does a more amusing analysis here.
In this report, Australian pharmacy owners have killed a deal that would have required them to ‘up-sell’ Blackmores range of ‘natural’ remedies along with medicines which they are dispensing. This deal was being pushed in a presumably cosy arrangement between the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and Blackmores.
Happily, pharmacists, supported by doctors and consumer groups, have stood their ground to the point where the deal has fallen through. In a humiliating backdown, the Guild has said:
The idea that community pharmacists would take part in commercial ‘upselling’ without regard to their professional standards is offensive to our profession and rejected by the guild. However, perceptions are very important, and it is overwhelmingly clear that the public perception of this endorsement was damaging to the reputation of community pharmacy.
In a refreshing frank ripost, the CEO of the professional association which presumably represents the pharmacists (APESMA), said:
They describe their decision to enter the deal as one made in good faith. Good faith must be their code for big bag of coins. Australian pharmacists should never forget that the guild was willing to trade on their good reputation for commercial gain.
And this mystifying comment from Blackmores’ CEO:
The deal would provide ”the Coke and fries” with prescription drugs while providing pharmacies with a new and important revenue stream.
Was that intended to smooth the waters? If anything a comment like this would simply have inflamed the situation, and confirmed that the deal was a cynical ploy.
Once again, kudos to our pharmacists for demonstrating some principles. I suspect the next election for Guild office bearers will be interesting.