(Re: Naturopathic College Expands, December)

Why is it that herbal medicine is basically unregulated in Ontario? Anyone can sell and dispense herbal remedies for any reason.

Pharmacists, and the companies that control them, sell hundreds of natural remedies, herbs and potions without any scientific basis for their efficacy. Plus, there are no warning labels, no handouts, no way for any of them to know if there is an interaction with prescription drugs.

After a scathing attack on the herbal remedy industry in the January 14th Toronto Star, it was announced that Pharma Plus might just pull any herbal product off their shelves if they don’t have proper warning labels.

For Pharmacy Post to lend credibility to naturopathic medicine is wrong. Ontario-trained naturopaths in our community use iridology, ear candling, applied kinesiology, and other quack treatments. Why is it that pharmacists are now moving into their camp?

Last month I requested that Wal-Mart remove a holistic health magazine from their pharmacies because it represented fraudulent nutritional and chiropractic treatment of children with A.D.D. Wal-Mart immediately removed the quack magazine, but they still sell potentially dangerous herbal products without warnings. They are not the only chains that do this.

When will Pharmacy Post and other publications demand that science, not sales, is the profession’s most important responsibility to the public?

Shoppers Drug Mart, the largest chain in Canada, leads the way in herbal and other non-medical remedies, including homeopathic quack compounds. Fancy displays of the do-nothing remedies fill the aisles of most stores. This is out and out quackery, and the worst kind of consumer health fraud. For pharmacists to have put in eight years of school to be able to defend the sale of homeopathic remedies has never been addressed by their own regulators.

Pharma Plus is the single largest vendor for Bell’s Shark cartilage products, a quack remedy for all sorts of diseases. Their pharmacists were required to display the Bell products with their false claims and brochures at their pharmacy checkout counter for months. When I objected, I was told that the head office required them to put them there.

Why is it that Pharmacy Post continues to ignore the facts? Quackery is wrong, it’s unregulated, and it can injure the public. I don’t see any disclaimers on any marquee, on any counter, or on any products at any pharmacy in Ontario.

Let’s hear from your readers. Let’s see if any of them will tell the truth, without being threatened by their head office.

Terry Polevoy, M.D.
Waterloo, Ontario