The Pharmacy Council has been awarded the 2015 Bent Spoon Award from the NZ Skeptics for proposing a change to its Code of Ethics that would allow the sale of healthcare products that have not been shown to work.
The Pharmacy Council is responsible under the Health Practitioners Competence Assurance Act for setting standards of ethical conduct for pharmacists in New Zealand. Section 6.9 of its 2011 Code of Ethics states that pharmacists can only supply or promote products where there is no reason to doubt their quality or safety, and when there is credible evidence of efficacy.
Groups such as the NZ Skeptics and the Society for Science Based Healthcare have identified pharmacies selling unproven “remedies” such as homeopathy, and put pressure on the Pharmacy Council to enforce their Code of Ethics. In response, and rather than clamping down on the sale of such products, in August 2015 the Pharmacy Council proposed to change the wording of its code. This proposed change would allow the sale of “complementary therapies” that are not supported by credible evidence of efficacy.
Chair of the NZ Skeptics, Mark Honeychurch, said “It’s disappointing that the Pharmacy Council would even consider that weakening their Code of Ethics is a good solution to the problem they have of non-compliant pharmacists. Surely it makes more sense to educate pharmacists about what is and isn’t ethical to sell, and for the Council to be more effective in policing this section of the code – rather than to change their code to allow unethical behaviour.”
Each year the NZ Skeptics announces the Bent Spoon Award for the New Zealand organisation which has shown the most egregious gullibility or lack of critical thinking on a science-related issue.
Announced at its recent convention, a close runner-up for the Bent Spoon award was TV3’s 3D current events show, with its episode “Cause or Coincidence?” which suggested that the Gardasil vaccine was to blame for two unexplained deaths of New Zealand girls, along with others who have suffered from illnesses after receiving the vaccination.