Australia’s first comprehensive pharmacy review in two decades, released this week, asks the important question:
“Is it confusing for patients if non-evidence based therapies are sold alongside prescription medicines?”
Let me save the reviewers some trouble: the answer is “yes”.
The harder question, of course, is “What, if anything, should be done about it at a regulatory level?” I don’t pretend to have an answer, but doing nothing at all will be a poor outcome for consumers.
The Review of Pharmacy Remuneration and Regulation (the ‘King review’) can be found here (pdf).
I spend a lot of effort highlighting potential conflicts of interest when it comes to doctors’ prescription decisions being swayed by marketing rather than evidence. But this is merely fine-tuning within a system already ensuring most doctors gain no direct financial reward.
The community pharmacy model is, necessarily, far more prone to financial conflicts of interest. Arguably, this could loosely apply to any business with a cash register, but the health industry requires particularly careful oversight. Continue reading