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Amcal experts?

Here’s the new ad for Amcal, a pharmacy chain. I caught this ad last night in a rare spate of TV watching.

So I popped down to my local Amcal chemist. Along with perfumes, diapers, and magazines, here’s what I found.

Lots and lots of homeopathy. The message is starting to get out that homeopathy doesn’t work, but it seems the chemists are either clueless, or they can’t resist all the tasty tasty money that it brings.

Bach flower essences are also popular, but just as dodgy. “Traditionally used to relieve feelings of stress”, it says.

This is a bottle of some patent medicine. If you look closely, it says, “With creosote.” That’s not a warning; I think it’s meant to be a selling point.

This is supposed to be for migraines. It’s mostly just lavender oil.

And lots of ear candles. Everybody knows these are bogus, right? A brochure says that in addition to sucking the wax out of your ears, they can restore your harmonic energy balance. I asked, if they don’t restore my harmonic energy balance, do I get my money back? They said no.

And check it out — colloidal silver, ffs.

I don’t think my local chemist is atypical. Chemists around here have real medicine that works, but they don’t mind selling a bit of the fake stuff on the side. So if you walk into a chemist expecting expert advice, you might get it, or you might shell out good money for a lot of crap.

People look to pharmacies as places where they can get accurate information about health and drugs. Maybe pharmacists don’t ask for this reputation, and it’s an expectation that the public has created. Which would let the pharmacists off the hook.

But now that Amcal is embracing its image that their people are ‘experts’ (and trading off of this image), then they have a responsibility to provide expert advice and educate the public, and not supply fake cures just because the unwary will pay for it.


  1. I'm glad the word is getting out about homeopathy.

    A couple of years ago, I went to a pharmacy here in Switzerland and asked the pharmacist to recommend something (for an ailment I don't remember), and the pharmacist sold me some homeopathic product!

    At the time, I hadn't heard of homeopathy, so I had no idea that the pharmacist — from whom I'd expected some level of medical professionalism! — went ahead and sold me a placebo! She didn't even mention that it was "homeopathic" — I figured it out after reading the box more carefully at home. Someone who isn't following the skeptical news feeds might never have figured it out.

    It really pisses me off to see pharmacists abusing the public's trust by selling real medicine alongside snake oil, acting like they're the same thing!

  2. I have come across some Japanese
    medicine containing creosote,used
    to treat upset stomach.
    Very dubious at first,but it
    works.Does not taste very pleasant

  3. Hey, ian J., I was trying to find out about this, but I couldn't find anything with a casual search. All I could find were references to how toxic creosote is. Do you have a link or something?

  4. What are they selling colloidal silver for?

    Here's what the TGA say…

    "In December 2002, an amendment was made to the Therapeutic Goods (Excluded Goods) Order such that products containing substances like colloidal silver, which make therapeutic claims, are no longer goods excluded from therapeutic goods legislation and must meet the requirements of other therapeutic goods. Colloidal silver products that are used in the purification or treatment of drinking water, and which do not make therapeutic claims, will remain excluded from therapeutic goods legislation."

    On the issue of not understanding homeopathy comes a question to the cancer specialist in the Dingle inquest

    Asked to compare homeopathic medicine to the more traditional medicine, Dr Platell said he did not "have any experience in those (homeopathic) areas".

    Depressing response.

  5. Andy – it's a bit harsh to bag Dr Platell for not expressing an opinion on Homeopathy. He is a surgeon. He is not going to waste his time studying the background of Homeopathy. If you have no expertise in an area you should not present yourself as an authority. Unfortunately Peter Dingle needs to learn this lesson.

  6. I would have been happier if he'd said, "Homeopathy has been studied to death, and there's never been a positive result for it. A parliamentary inquiry in the UK concluded that there was no basis for even examining it further."

    Simple and well in evidence.

  7. Yeah Hal, I see how you got that. Sorry, I wasn't meaning to slag him off. I just found it a bit depressing. It seemed like a lost opportunity.

    On radio the following morning he did go a little further saying, as I recall, that there's just no evidence for homeopathy.

  8. Sorry…

    I guess we must also remember that we're only getting what the media give us. There must be an awful lot more said in reality and what we might find interesting might not be what the journo/editor finds interesting.

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