One wonders if pharmacists have given up on science-based medicine altogether.

I mean most of them already stock homeopathy and woo like ear candles and holographic wrist bands, a lot have in-residence naturopaths and iridologists. But now there’s yet another way to rip off consumers by selling them stuff they don’t need, this time when they’re trying to get a prescription filled*.

It has just been announced that the Pharmacy Guild and Blackmores have joined forces to upsell you Blackmores supplements when filling a prescription. It’s all explained in the video below but basically now when you go to a pharmacist to get a script, a computer programme will match your medication to a Blackmores product, then the pharmacist will attempt to upsell you, by saying you need it if you’re taking that medication.

What a sweet deal between the Pharmacy Guild – the organisation who essentially manage the business side of pharmacies – and what a great little earner for Blackmores. The only people who are in line to get ripped off in this partnership are the consumers who will likely get sold expensive and unnecessary supplements. As Dr Ginni says in the video below, it’s the equivalent of saying “do you want fries with that?”.

It pains me to think that pharmacists exploit their status as one of Australia’s most trusted professions by doing crap like this. Do they really care about their patients anymore or are they only interested in lining their back pockets?  (The previous statement was made in frustration. Thanks to @pakili1987 for pointing out that this will not translate into a boon for individual pharmacists. It’s a ruling made by the Guild and many of them fervently disagree with it).

And they’ve really picked their timing on this haven’t they. Are they hoping we wouldn’t remember the recent TGA audit of CAM which found ninety percent of complementary medicines didn’t comply with regulations? Out of 31 selected for random audit;

• 22 were found to have manufacturing and/or quality issues
• 20 medicines had labelling issues or breaches which may mislead consumers
• 14 did not have adequate evidence to substantiate claims made about the medicines

That so many products failed to even satisfy quality or manufacturing standards has led for calls by the TGA to label supplements with “untested”. And why not. Consumers have a right to know they’re buying something that probably does nothing and in some case may even be harmful.

According to The Age;

“Obtaining evidence of efficacy of listed complementary medicines has been a difficult issue,” the audit report said.

“While most products are safe, if often ineffective, Australian research last year identified 39 reports of adverse events associated with such products, including four deaths over the previous two years.”

“Official inaction on the efficacy issue has been blamed on the Government’s reluctance to pay for tighter policing of the remedies, but also on pressure from industry leaders, including, Marcus Blackmore who rejects the disclaimer idea.


As for the Pharmacy Guild, never mind that our products don’t comply with TGA rules for safety and manufacturing, let’s gets our white coated “trusted” friends to push ’em on consumers anyway! What the hey! BUY OUR SHIT!


I remember one of the first things I ever did when becoming an active skeptic was sit with Richard Saunders and write an open letter to the pharmacists of Australia asking them to stop selling quackery. That was three years ago and instead of things getting better they only seem to be getting worse.

Well done Pharmacy Guild of Australia for taking the piss out of consumers and bringing your “trusted” profession into disrepute again. Shame on you.

*BTW I am uncertain this is a brand new idea. I’ve certainly had pharmacy staff attempt to upsell me supplements when being prescribed antibiotics but it only happened once and it was a long time ago. I presume this new deal means the upsell will now be exclusively Blackmores – what I don’t know is if means it will be more common place.

QUICK UPDATE: From an article in Fairfax this morning.

“He said it was the first time the Guild’s computer system, which is used by about 70 per cent of members, would prompt pharmacists to discuss complementary medicines with patients. The system has been used to alert pharmacists to potential drug interactions or medication compliance issues.”

What a dirty money grabbing exercise this is. Worse than I previously thought.

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