Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

A Close Run Thing at the Chemist

By Peter Bowditch

The engagement of pharmacy and pseudoscience was broken before they could get to the altar, but it would have been a one-sided marriage anyway.

Peter Bowditch is a former President of Australian Skeptics Inc. (

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Many years ago I did some stage acting, and one of the plays we performed was Rhinoceros by Eugene Ionesco. It was part of what was known as “the theatre of the absurd”, a literary equivalent to surrealist art where what was on stage challenged the senses and the observer’s perception of reality.

I thought I was in another Ionesco play in September when I read about an agreement between the Pharmacy Guild of Australia (the professional body for retail pharmacists) and Blackmores (the country’s leading manufacturer of supplements and “alternative” medicines). The proposal was that when people had prescriptions filled for certain classes of medications the pharmacist would advise them of “complementary” Blackmores products to counter the side-effects of the medications. The specific recommendations would be displayed to the dispensing pharmacists by the Guild software used to record prescriptions as they are filled.

I shouldn’t have been surprised, because The Pharmacy Guild has form. In 2005 it joined forces with the Complementary Health Care Council of Australia to run a “Natural Healthcare Expo” in Sydney. In 2008 the retail pharmacists of Australia were awarded The Bent Spoon by Australian Skeptics for selling rubbish in a manner that legitimised it by association with real, tested, effective medications and medical treatments.

This new proposal went...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.