September 29, 2011 by  
Filed under Health Blog, Healthy Lifestyle

It’s one thing for pharmacists to try to take the role of a doctor by offering health advice, it’s another to try to cash in on the diet revolution (i.e. many franchised pharmacies now have their own weight loss programs) but apparently that isn’t enough for some of them – now some pharmacists are also trying to be naturopaths and are going to be ‘prescribing’ complementary therapies!

Blackmores deal will destroy trust in pharmacists, doctors say

The following extract is taken from an article published in the Medical Observer (26th Sep 2011, Mark O’Brien):
“A NEW range of Pharmacy Guild-endorsed supplements from Blackmores will be “the gold cross pharmacists will have to bear”, according to doctors’ groups, who say the deal will destroy the trust of GPs and patients.

A partnership between Blackmores and the guild, announced last week, will see the GuildCare software used by pharmacists to provide a prompt to recommend one of four ‘Blackmores Companions’ products when certain  prescriptions are filled.

Blackmores CEO Christine Holgate told Pharmacy News last week the deal would give pharmacists an opportunity to provide the “Coke and fries” with prescription medications.

AMA president Dr Steve Hambleton said the arrangement would destroy the trust between GPs and pharmacists and between pharmacists and patients.

“This is appalling,” he said.

“This is not like buying a pair of thongs at the front of the shop – this is information that flashes up on the computer the pharmacist is relying on for information and says this prescription would benefit from this supplement. “You send the patient over to the pharmacist [with a prescription for an antihypertensive] and he says, you need some zinc with that. “But where is the evidence?”

Dr Hambleton said the deal, which will include the use of the guild’s gold cross logo on the labelling for the Companions range, would be a burden for pharmacists for many years to come.

Comment is being sought from guild president Kos Sclavos”.

Sar’s Comment:

I’ve always found it interesting that pharmacists sell everything from perfume, fine china ornaments, jewellery, baby food, toothpaste, make up, toilet paper, hair colours, and anything else that they can fit into their stores that offers good profit margins – yet they are one of the most trusted professions in the world. However, I think this latest issue may change the public’s perception of pharmacists once and for all.

On another note, I don’t think qualified Naturopaths have too much to worry about with the introduction of nutrient prescribing by pharmacists. People go and see Naturopaths because they want individual expert advice about their health problems and how to treat them in the best way possible. They know that real health can only be achieved by working with a trained professional that is willing to spend a large amount of time with them on a one-on-one basis and consider them as individuals (Not just prescribe them something generic from a computer print out – which is what the pharmacy guild is proposing!).

Most educated people also want to prevent disease – which is another reason why they choose to consult a qualified Naturopath. People want to have comprehensive screening to find out about their unique biological* and metabolic* make-up – because they know it is the only way that they can really know what their own body requires in the prevention of disease. How else will they know what minerals their body requires? What hormones may be out of balance? Whether or not they have high levels of toxins causing them health problems? What nutrients they need to avoid due to genetic or metabolic disorders (that often they didn’t know existed before having the correct scientific testing or their undetected imbalances resulting in disease)? What foods they should avoid for their individually unique body? And if they are not screened properly by an experienced practitioner they may never find out. * For further information about individual health requirements refer below.

So how will the pharmacist know what’s right for their customers when they won’t be taking a full case history of their health; their symptoms; their family history; (I presume) they won’t be referring them for any pathology tests to identify or confirm the causes for any individual health issues; and they will only be going by a computer program that tells them ‘This Goes With That’ in relation to what nutrient goes with what medication. This seems to me to be like playing Russian Roulette with people’s health?

If you would prefer to find out what your unique body requires and/or if you are taking prescription medications and you want to know what side effects they cause (and what minerals they deplete in your body – because most do!) – Ask a qualified and experienced Naturopath because most have studied pharmacy and drug interactions in their training to become a Naturopath as most naturopathic medicine courses also include study on the contraindications and effects of medications including mineral depletion in the body. More importantly, Naturopaths will spend time with you and they know the best testing procedures to help you achieve optimum health and can develop the best possible ‘individual’ wellness program for you because they are trained to do so and that’s what they do best!

* Examples of Individual Requirements includes the following:
A large percentage of the population has an intolerance to Solanine and should therefore always avoid supplements that contain Goji berries (as well as certain foods such as potatoes, capsicums and zucchini); a number of people have haemochromatosis where iron supplementation could make them very ill and unless a trained practitioner identified the signs and they were tested for this condition, they may never know they had it until irreversible liver damage had occurred; Up to 10% of the population have a genetic defect called Methylenetetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) which, if undetected, can cause blood clots, heart disease, depression, anxiety and other many other health conditions or if pregnant and you possess this genetic defect and it is left untreated, it can cause still births, miscarriages or spina bifida in your offspring. People with MTHFR require a special form of folate supplementation to prevent disease (as their body cannot metabolise any other form) and most experienced Naturopaths refer their clients for this test if they suspect they have this condition.

There are a vast number of other genetic, metabolic and biological conditions that an experienced Naturopath is well aware of and takes the time to test their clients for, if they suspect they may be relevant to their client. However, my understanding is that pharmacists are not trained in this level of physiology and, even if they were, I doubt that they would spend large amounts of time getting to know their customers full health history and the signs and symptoms that may indicate that specific pathology testing may be required and/or whether certain nutrients or herbs should be avoided in individual people. I believe that this is potentially dangerous and sadly may result in a significant increase in serious and harmful reactions as a consequence of generic nutrient prescribing.

Let me know what your thoughts are about these new changes. Do you think that pharmacists should be giving advice about nutrients? Do you feel they should be ‘up-selling’ you products whenever you go to fill your prescription? I would love your feedback on this important issue.

Yours in Great Health,

Sar Rooney BHSc., ND., DC., DASc., GDSc. (Hons), MATMS, MNHAA, MHATO

Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner, Lecturer, Researcher


Earth Medicine TM


Email: [email protected]



Helping you achieve optimal wellness, hormonal balance and disease prevention with personalised, professional naturopathic health care, clinical pathology testing and high-quality herbal medicines and supplements 

Sar Rooney is a Naturopathic Medicine Practitioner specialising in Anxiety and Depression |Women’s Health| Hormonal Imbalances | Thyroid Disorders | Digestive Health | Genetic Polymorphisms (MTHFR/Pyroluria) | Nutritional Medicine | Optimal Wellness & Disease Prevention 

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