A pharmacy in London is reportedly marketing homeopathic protection for malaria and other deadly diseases, potentially deterring customers from seeking proven medical assistance. Yet a court case to challenge its right to vend the pills has now been dropped.
An investigation by the BBC and Sense About Science, and highlighted on Newsnight last week, found that Ainsworths, a pharmacy in Marylebone, still touts 'anecdotal evidence' that its sugar pills are effective against malaria. Ainsworths' claims are true. In the same way that there's anecdotal evidence of the Loch Ness Monster. Perhaps the anecdote comes from the Prince of Wales, whose feathery warrant endorses their site. But use of words like 'evidence' on products that have no proven medical efficacy is, to quote the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, 'shocking'.
In a new twist, the General Pharmaceutical Council has dropped cases against three pharmacies, each of whom supposedly advocated the use of quack drugs for serious diseases. The Council asserts that the pharmacies have taken 'remedial action' to prevent such misrepresentation. It also believes that the allegations 'fall below the current threshold criteria for referral to the investigating committee'.
Sense About Science, who campaign for clear public advice over matters of science and medicine, describe the decision as 'shabby and irresponsible'.
Like all homeopathic concoctions, the pills are untested in serious clinical trials and contain no active ingredients. You might as well suck on a very expensive ice cube.
Image by Joe Dunckley