Pharmacists selling CAM doesn’t wash

Posted 21 March 2016

We recently posted a peer-reviewed paper, Alternative Medicine and the Ethics Of Commerce, written by Scott Gavura and Professor Chris MacDonald and published in the journal Bioethics.

Jane McCredie highlights this article in the Medical Journal Australia of 21 March, 2016, with a title “Pharmacists selling CAM doesn’t wash”. She points out the principle of ‘informed consent’, that the buyer needs to fully understand what they are being sold, that is, the seller needs to give all the information for a fully informed decision to be made. She writes: “The informed consent principle implies ‘a general demand for honesty on the part of sellers, and a refusal to profit from the ignorance of consumers’, Gavura and MacDonald write.”
She writes: “So how does the CAM industry fare when measured against these principles of commercial ethics? It’s pretty much a total fail on the first one, since few CAM products are able to provide quality evidence of efficacy”.
“It’s not always a question of intentional dishonesty, as the authors acknowledge. Some in the CAM industry clearly believe in the products they sell, but that doesn’t let them off the ethical hook. ‘It is not plausible to excuse vendors for selling a product that does not work simply because they have either not taken the time and effort to investigate … or turned a blind eye to the evidence that is available to them,’ the authors write. ‘There is, after all, such a thing as willful ignorance.’”
“The selling of CAM is often defended with arguments about respect for the autonomy of the individual, each person’s right to make decisions about their own health. But that really only holds water if the individual is fully informed before making his or her decision, something that would require manufacturers and retailers to clearly disclose the lack of evidence for the products they sell.”
“The used car salesmen would be proud.”

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