Page 2: If you value your right to manage your own health and choose your health treatment, then it’s time to speak out or forever hold your peace. A backdoor attack will soon limit most of the UK’s homeopathists and pharmacies.
Continued from Page 1
by Heidi Stevenson
Nonetheless, that’s precisely what’s about to happen. Full implementation of the Medicines Act 1968 would classify and treat homeopathic medicines as unlicensed medicines, forcing their distribution to be controlled in the same manner as unlicensed pharmaceuticals. Section 10, paragraph 4(a) states:
10. Exemptions for pharmacists.
(4) Without prejudice to the preceding subsections, the restrictions imposed by sections 7 and 8 of this Act do not apply to anything which is done in a registered pharmacy by or under the supervision of a pharmacist and consists of—
(a) preparing or dispensing a medicinal product for administration to a person where the pharmacist is requested by or on behalf of that person to do so in accordance with the pharmacist’s own judgment as to the treatment required, and that person is present in the pharmacy at the time of the request in pursuance of which that product is prepared or dispensed, …
This has several implications for unlicensed homeopathic medicines:
Sales may be made only on the premises of a licensed pharmacy. It will not be possible to purchase homeopathic medicines by mail order, phone, internet, or any method other than the presence on the pharmacy’s premises of the person who will use it, or that person’s representative.
There are only five licensed homeopathic pharmacies in the nation. While it will technically be possible to obtain homeopathic medicines at any licensed pharmacy, very few actually carry them and of those that do, only a small number are able to stock a significant portion of the medicines in the Materia Medica.
There are few pharmacies that stock or sell homeopathic medicines. Although any pharmacy could obtain them from the five that produce and sell most of the Materia Medica, the simple fact is that most won’t. If they are willing to order from one of the five significant stockists, it becomes a matter of making a second visit to the premises, usually at least a couple of days later, for the patient.
That, of course, presumes that there is a licensed pharmacy willing to sell homeopathic medicines. In many areas, there aren’t any. That will effectively end homeopathic prescribing in many areas, especially rural regions.
Of course, there’s also the consideration that health food and herbal stores will no longer be legally able to stock anything but the 50 or so licensed homeopathic medicines, cutting off yet another source of supply and potentially pushing ever more businesses into bankruptcy at a time when small business is suffering. This law would likely add to the woes of town centers.
The pharmacist may refuse to provide the homeopathic medicine. In the case of pharmaceutical drugs, which are notoriously toxic and often inappropriately prescribed to people who are allergic or taking conflicting drugs, the pharmacist appropriately acts as a gatekeeper to protect people from mistakes.
However, in the case of homeopathic medicines, safety is not an issue. Further, if there is a conflict between homeopathic medicines, it is often the homeopathist’s intention—to use one medicine to counteract the effects of another. The pharmacist is in no position to make judgements on homeopathic prescriptions. That kind of authority in the hands of a pharmacist, though desirable in the case of pharmaceuticals, is entirely inappropriate in homeopathics.
A pharmacist may refuse to sell homeopathic medicines to the homeopathist and insist on selling only to individual patients, in spite of there being no benefit in doing so. The pharmacist may refuse to sell some of the medicines because the names sound dangerous. Substances like arsenic are rendered perfectly safe through dilution. However, a typical pharmacist might consider it dangerous because of its name, as they are rarely trained in the nature of or theory behind homeopathic medicines.
Non-NHS homeopathists will still be able to prescribe. They will also be able to stock their medicines. However, as can be seen above, their actual ability to do so will be quite limited by the requirement to purchase products on a pharmacy’s premises and will be at risk for lack of access.
Nothing in this law affects access to homeopathy on the NHS. As it now stands, homeopathic medicines are prescribed by a homeopathist whose services are provided free of charge to the patient. The homeopathist writes a prescription and the patient generally fills it on site at an NHS-provided pharmacy.
However, non-NHS homeopaths and their patients will be heavily impacted. Though they will be able to continue to stock medicines, just like patients, they will not be able to purchase their supplies by phone, mail order, or internet, and they will not be able to have them shipped. The homeopathist, who will effectively be acting on behalf of patients, must go to the pharmacy to place an order and then wait to pick it up on the premises.