Kudos to the New Zealand-based Society for Science Base Healthcare for taking a pharmacy sale of a homeopathic remedy to the Advertising Standards Authority:
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld a complaint regarding advertising of the homeopathic product “No-Jet-Lag“” in an Auckland pharmacy. The complaint, which was lodged with the ASA by the Society for Science Based Healthcare in July, alleged that the advertisement’s claims about the product that “It Really Works” for “Homeopathic Jet Lag Prevention” were unsubstantiated and misleading.
In defense of their advertising the manufacturer of the product, Miers Laboratories submitted a study they had carried out regarding the product. However, the Advertising Standards Complaints Board said that:
the trial population in the pilot study was small, the methodology was not robust and the results had not been published or peer reviewed. The Complaints Board also noted the study was an in-house trial conducted by the Advertiser rather than independent research
Given the weaknesses in the study, the majority of the Complaints Board said the Advertiser had not satisfactorily substantiated the claim the product “really works” and, as such, the Complaints Board said the advertisement had the potential to mislead consumers. Consequently, the Complaints Board said the advertisement did not observe a high standard of social responsibility required of advertisements of this type.
As a result, the Complaints Board ruled to uphold the complaint.
No Jet Lag is sold across New Zealand and around the world. Not surprisingly, given it’s homeopathy, there’s no credible evidence it works. While the choice of pharmacy to name in the complaint was arbitrary, the pharmacy has agreed to remove the product from sale.
I’ve discussed at length in a previous post how the sale of homeopathy in pharmacies is fundamentally unethical. The Pharmacy Council of New Zealand includes the following principles in its code of ethics:
AS A PHARMACIST YOU MUST …Act in a manner that promotes public trust and confidence in pharmacists and enhances the reputation of the profession.
[Section 6.9] Only purchase, supply or promote any medicine, complementary therapy, herbal remedy or other healthcare product where there is no reason to doubt its quality or safety and when there is credible evidence of efficacy.
[Section 6.10] Ensure you do not purchase or sell from a pharmacy any product or service which may be detrimental to the good standing of the profession or bring the profession into disrepute.
Selling homeopathy, which are are sugar pills without medicinal ingredients, is fundamentally at odds with the professional obligations of pharmacists. Homeopathy has no place on a pharmacy’s shelves. It’s unfortunate it’s taking complaints and even class action lawsuits to get action when regulators and the pharmacy profession itself refuses to even acknowledge the facts about this elaborate placebo system.
As a pharmacist, I say thank you to the Society for Science Based Healthcare. Keep the heat on the pharmacy profession.