Is it ethical to sell complementary and alternative medicine?

TRSM-logo
I joined Professor Chris MacDonald at Ryerson University earlier this week to participate in Ryerson’s business ethics speaker series. The topic was CAM:

Is it ethical to market complementary and alternative medicines? Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are medical products and services outside the mainstream of medical practice. But they are not just medicines (or supposed medicines) offered and provided for the prevention and treatment of illness. They are also products and services – things offered for sale in the marketplace. Most discussion of the ethics of CAM has focused on bioethical issues – issues having to do with therapeutic value, and the relationship between patients and those purveyors of CAM. This presentation — by a philosopher and a pharmacist — aims instead to consider CAM from the perspective of commercial ethics. That is, we consider the ethics not of prescribing or administering CAM (activities most closely associated with health professionals) but the ethics of selling CAM.

You can watch it here here.

It was great to see so many public members attend and participate. There was an extended Q&A afterwards, with some very thoughtful audience questions. Watch for more on this topic from us in the future.

Upcoming talk: Complementary and Alternative Medicine: A Business Ethics Perspective

trlc_logoI’ll be joining Professor Chris MacDonald on January 28 for a discussion about the ethics of selling complementary and alternative medicine:

Is it ethical to market complementary and alternative medicines? Complementary and alternative medicines (CAM) are medical products and services outside the mainstream of medical practice. But they are not just medicines (or supposed medicines) offered and provided for the prevention and treatment of illness. They are also products and services – things offered for sale in the marketplace. Most discussion of the ethics of CAM has focused on bioethical issues – issues having to do with therapeutic value, and the relationship between patients and those purveyors of CAM. This presentation — by a philosopher and a pharmacist — aims instead to consider CAM from the perspective of commercial ethics. That is, we consider the ethics not of prescribing or administering CAM (activities most closely associated with health professionals) but the ethics of selling CAM.

Admission is free. Space is limited. Register here.

WHAT: Complementary & Alternative Medicine: A Business Ethics Perspective

DATE: January 28, 2015

TIME: 3:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

WHERE: Ted Rogers Leadership Centre, Ted Rogers School of Management, Ryerson University, 55 Dundas Street West, Toronto.

 

Praise from Science Borealis

Thank you to the Science Borealis blog for making Science-Based Pharmacy an Editors’ Pick for 2014!

The blog won in the category of “Health, Medicine and Veterinary Science“. Given the output and quality of other Canadian health professionals and colleagues that blog, I’m surprised and very grateful for the recognition. I’m a strong supporter of Canadian science blogging, and am privileged that they have included SBP in their blog roll. If you want more Canada (and who doesn’t?), adding the Borealis feed to your RSS reader or following them on Facebook is an excellent way to discover more Canadian science.

I find it hard to believe that the SBP blog enters its sixth year in 2015. After over 300 posts and 1.6 million views, there’s still lots of work to be done. SBP will continue to advocate for a pharmacy vision that embraces science, rejects quackery, and puts ethical patient care at the core of the pharmacist’s role. Thanks for reading and your continued support.

Google Reader is Closing: Here’s what you need to know

Actually, it isn't. We'll all be just fine after Google Reader dies.

Actually, it isn’t. We’ll all be just fine after Google Reader dies.

Hundreds of SBP’s readers follow this blog using RSS and Google Reader.  Some link their Google Reader account to sites like Flipboard and Zite.  If this is you, read on:

Google Reader will close down on July 1. If the way you access SBP relies on this application, you need to make some choices to stay updated with its content.

  1. Switch to a new RSS reader. I’m really impressed with Feedly, and think it’s actually better than Google Reader. One click to transfer your feeds to Feedly, if you’re already subscribed via Google Reader.  There are other alternatives to Feedly, too. Here’s another list of alternatives.
  2. Subscribe to SBP by email.
  3. Follow SBP on Facebook. Posts will always be linked on the FB page, and there’s lots of bonus content too.
  4. Follow me on Twitter, where I will always link to posts.

Thank you for your continued support and interest. We are nearing 1 million visits to SBP.

 

Ben Goldacre’s Bad Pharma North American Tour

Ben Goldacre

Ben Goldacre is a British physician, journalist, and author of two books I’ve previously reviewed and recommended: Bad Science and Bad Pharma. Ben will be in Canada and the United States next week promoting the North American release of Bad Pharma. Here are a few of the events that are open to the public:

Portland Oregon, February 17
Seattle Washington, February 18
New York City, February 21
Toronto, Ontario Feb 14 (Pub night!) and February 15

More details here. I hope to see you at the Toronto events. To prepare yourself, here’s a recent interview with Goldacre, and here’s one of Ben’s TED talks, What doctors don’t know about the drugs they prescribe.

Dispensing in 140 character increments

Some of the people I follow on twitter

It’s nice to be acknowledged for your work, even if it’s just for creating 140 character messages. James Fell who writes for Chatelaine magazine and is also active on Twitter, recently published a list at Chatelaine: The Ten Best Health Experts to Follow on Twitter. And guess who made the list?

8. Scott Gavura Toronto-based pharmacist who advocates for science-based healthcare. A skeptic and critic of pseudo-science.

I’ve been using Twitter for a few years now and find it’s a great tool for learning, educating, and connecting with people that share similar interests. If you like the blog and wish I’d update it more frequently, follow me on Twitter where you’ll see a lot more relevant content that I just don’t have time to blog. I’ve got a fair number of followers and follow about 500 people – a mix of scientists, science writers, journalists, health professionals, and more. I’m not surprised by some of the other “best health experts” on James’ list – I already follow Julia Belluz, André Picard , Yoni Freedhoff and Timothy Caulfield, and you should too.  If you’re not already using Twitter, check it out. What happens on Twitter right now is today’s newscast and tomorrow’s newspaper.

Science-based health advocacy and the end of “Registered Holistic Allergists” in Canada

Photo of the GSR-120

Caution! The GSR-120 is an uproven allergy treatment

As the trend of fake food allergies and fake food intolerances has begun to permeate pharmacy practice, I’ve become much more attuned to allergy pseudoscience. As I have pointed out before, there are scientific ways to diagnose and treat allergies, and then there are the methods used by “alternative” health practitioners, which are neither accurate nor effective. It’s not only naturopaths – there is a wide field of different practices, all claiming the ability to identify and treat allergies. These methods lack scientific substantiation – some prefer to redefine the word allergy:

A Holistic Allergist uses a new definition of allergy: “A bioenergetic counteraction to a given substance resulting in abnormality”.

It’s strategy first documented in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass:

“When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.” Continue reading