Two wins for science-based medicine!

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March 23 2009 9:40 AM

Two wins for science-based medicine!

I don't usually get to say that reality-based medicine won a round with so-called alternative medicines, but today we have two such wins!

One is simply fantastic: last week, I posted about the Australian Skeptics open letter to pharmacists, taking them to task about promoting such nonsense as homeopathy and ear candling. I found out today their letter has had a very positive effect: on Pharmedia News Reports ("Commentary on Media Reports Worldwide that Affect Pharmacy"), their editor responded to the Australian ad, saying "we recommend that all practicing pharmacists evaluate what the Skeptics have to say, and if any part of your daily practice needs reviewing, then please take the time to undertake a proper adjustment."

Phil Plait Phil Plait

Phil Plait writes Slate’s Bad Astronomy blog and is an astronomer, public speaker, science evangelizer, and author of Death From the Skies!  


Yay! And it gets better:

The following extracts were collated from the Pharmacy Board of NSW bulletins by Gerard McInerny (president).

Alternative medical practice or therapies, such as iridology, aromatherapy, reflexology, homeopathy and similar "natural" approaches to health care have apparently found a place in the community, but the Board can see little or no place for them in the practice of pharmacy. Regardless of any pharmacist's other heath care interests, no pharmacist may ever disregard their standing in the community as a provider of primary health care...

Because a recommendation by any pharmacist for a therapy or medicine gives that therapy or medicine special credibility, it is essential that the recommendation is soundly and scientifically based.

That's fantastic, and great to hear. Congrats to the Australian Skeptics!

The second win for real medicine was in the UK. Prince Charles is a noted supporter of alternative medicine, and has a company called Duchy Originals. This company makes some sketchy claims about their products detoxifying the body (something that your body does just fine all by its lonesome, just look up what the liver and kidneys do). A consumer complained about these ads, and lookee what happened:

After seven weeks of deliberation the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the licensing body responsible for assessing herbal medicines for safety, upheld the complaint prompting the company to change the wording of the adverts and remove the previous claims.

Yay again! Now, the company of course has claimed that they say their product is a "supplement", and not a medicine or a cure. Lots of sham companies in the US make this same claim about their product, too. They have commercials that go on and on about what their product does to make you feel better, solving this body problem, fixing that condition. But then, in teeny tiny letters it says "This product not evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration", which essentially means they're lying. It's incredible to me that some company can create pills that people can take internally, claim they'll make you bigger or smaller or faster or pain-free or detoxified, and these claims are not tested at all.

And it's not just that these pills almost certainly don't do what they claim; they can also react to other pills you may be taking (science-based or not) and cause grievous health problems, such as, for example, death.

So I'm thrilled that real science is making headway. There's a long long way to go, but this is good progress.



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