Gold Cross endorsement of Blackmores Companions range withdrawn

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia and Blackmores have agreed that the Gold Cross endorsement of the Blackmores Companions range of complementary medicines will be withdrawn.

The mutual decision has been taken in view of the strong level of public concern about the proposal, based on some media reporting of the endorsement which was ill-informed and inflammatory.

The last thing the Guild would ever want to do is deplete the credibility of community pharmacists, or damage the trust in which they are held by Australians. That trust and confidence is of paramount importance to the Guild and to our Members.

The Gold Cross endorsement arrangement with Blackmores was entered in good faith, with absolutely no intention of undermining the professionalism and integrity of  articipating pharmacists. There is not now and never would be any direction from the Guild for pharmacists to be involved in unprofessional, unethical or clinically unsound conduct. 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. Both the public, and sections of the broader pharmacy industry expressed strong concerns about the proposal.

The Guild has listened to these concerns and accepts – mutually with Blackmores – that the best course in all the circumstances is to withdraw the endorsement arrangement. The Guild regrets any damage done to the image of community pharmacy and will do everything possible to ensure the public maintain their trust in community pharmacists as the custodians of medicines and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

The National President of the Guild, Kos Sclavos, said: “We entered this arrangement in good faith, but we have now agreed with Blackmores that the furore that has been created is doing damage, and must be dealt with before it further damages community pharmacists and the patients they serve. The only alternative is to cancel the endorsement, and this has been done. I add my personal apologies for any distress this has caused to pharmacists.”

Gold Cross, a fully owned subsidiary of the Guild, had agreed to endorse a range of Blackmores products, which meant that the range of four Companions products would have the Guild’s Gold Cross on their packaging.

Additionally, an optional prompt containing clinical information for the patient to consider in relation to one product of the Companions range was to be available through the dispensary IT programs, on a pilot basis. The software pilot was not intended to commence until at least November, and will now not proceed.

Blackmores products are well-established, and marketed by one of the best known and respected names in evidence-based complementary medicine. Many doctors, pharmacists and other health professionals make recommendations for these types of products frequently.

Blackmores developed this range of four to be available exclusively through pharmacies so that consumers would always obtain the appropriate information and advice.

Contrary to some media reports, there was never any compulsion whatsoever on pharmacists to sell these products, nor was there any direct incentive to any pharmacist to sell them. At all times, community pharmacists would continue to be free – and indeed expected – to exercise their professional and clinical judgement in relation to these products.

Media inquiries: Greg Turnbull 0412 910 261

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  • Diane

    Good to see them back down on this. It didn’t sit right with me that they would try to use the social pressure of a public setting to try to sell extra products to patients who just want the transaction to be over with as soon as possible. If the products are that good, then let the doctor suggest it to the patient in a private, relaxed setting, rather than having the pharmacist do it.

    And to any pharmacists reading this, you need to do something about the serious lack of privacy in your stores. Give us some cubicles and/or bag our pills out of sight.

  • Myk

    That’s a media release from the pharmacy guild? Are Blackmores writing their press releases for them?

  • AndyD

    My local mechanic works for “a quality Australian company”, but I don’t expect my pharmacist to tell me to use him for the benefit of my health and neither do I expect to see a pharmacy seal of approval on my next service bill.

  • matthew smith

    who privitised the tga i have not seen a great public outcry on this issue,mostly internal , the speed at which the guild had to with draw is on a par with the speed the media jumped on pan in 2006 who is it from codex that now sits within tga , i thought blackmores was a quality aus company that had probably earnt the right to wear the logo

  • AndyD

    “The Guild regrets any damage done to the image of community pharmacy and will do everything possible to ensure the public maintain their trust in community pharmacists as the custodians of medicines and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.”
    EVERYTHING possible? Seriously? So pharmacists will now be advised to remove all nonsense products, including ear candles and homeopathy, from their shelves in order to maintain our trust? No? I didn’t think so.
    I don’t often resort to Americanisms but that whole media release reads lie “a bunch of hooey”.

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  • CEO of the ‘parent’ union representing pharmacist, APESMA, Chris Walton, was quick to respond to the Guild statement:

    “This is a pathetic back down by an out of touch organization. The Guild has been dragged kicking and screaming to the decision and still will not take responsibility. They describe their decision to enter the deal as one made in good faith. Good faith must now be code for a bag of coin.”

    “The profession should never forget that the Guild was willing to trade on the good reputation of pharmacists for commercial gain. While the same people are in charge why would we ever trust them again. Any pretence that they represent the pharmacy profession is over.