“143. Boots is the leading pharmacy chain in the UK and is a well recognised retailer andbrand. The pharmacy section of Boots sells a range of complementary and alternative medicines, including homeopathic products. We asked Paul Bennett, Professional Standards Director at Boots, why they sold homeopathic products. Mr Bennett replied:
“It is about consumer choice for us. A large number of our consumers actually do believe they are efficacious, but they are licensed medicinal products and, therefore, we believe it is right to make them available.167”
144. Beyond the issue of consumer choice, Professor Lawrence, Chief Scientific Adviser for the RPSGB, considered there were reasons why pharmacies should continue to sell homeopathic products:
“We would contest it is better for the patient for pharmacists to be present because they are able, if appropriate, to offer advice to that patient, and there are two things that are important. It is important that patients should realise there is not any evidence for the particular preparations and, also, it gives the pharmacist an opportunity to ensure that the patient is not actually taking something unnecessary.”168
We found this response unsatisfactory. As the RPSGB takes the view that “there is no scientific or clinical evidence to support homeopathy”169 the only advice pharmacists could give is that the products are placebos. Pharmacists should ensure that patients with symptoms that may require further medical investigation and treatment are not led to believe that a homeopathic remedy is effective beyond the placebo effect. The RPSGB itself has described pharmacists as “scientists in the high street”170 and therefore has a particular responsibility to ensure that pharmacists provide scientifically accurate advice to patients.
145. The RPSGB had concerns about the possibly legitimisation of homeopathy caused by the sale of products through pharmacies….”
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