Posted by: Witch Doctor | November 5, 2013

Regulators in a corner


For more years than she cares to remember, because of the nature of her specialty, The Witch Doctor has had the privilege of working very closely with a number of hospital pharmacists. Some of these professionals became her closest colleagues and the dedication and support they gave the service during difficult times was exceptional.

The Witch Doctor is pretty sure these pharmacists all have a sound, educated, and objective scientific approach to their subject.

She is absolutely certain, for example, that they have all heard of Avogadro’s number and understand its significance.

Community pharmacists working in high street shops seem to be a different breed. It appears they have been subject to Creep in a spectacular way. Many happily sell the modern equivalents of snake-oil without a blush.

DC’s Improbable Science has tackled the subject head on.


“The problems seem to lie mostly in retail shops. Their shelves are laden with ineffective pills and potions. And the pharmacist has every incentive to sell them. His/her income depends on it directly if it’s a privately owned pharmacy. And his/her standing with head office depends on it in chain store pharmacies. This conflict of financial interest is the prime reason why pharmacists are not qualified to form a third tier of healthcare. The avoidance of conflicts of interest among doctors was one of the great accomplishments of the NHS. In the USA there are huge scandals when, as happens repeatedly, doctors order expensive and unnecessary treatments from which they profit. It’s no consolation that such problems are creeping back in the UK as a result of the government’s vigorous efforts to sell it off.”

For some patients who are in the habit of “asking their pharmacist for advice” all of this may be an eye-opener.

This article by David Colquhoun is pushing the General Pharmaceutical Council into a corner. The Witch Doctor is curious how they will deal with these allegations, because, sooner or later, deal with them they must.

Indirectly, the article is also pushing the General Medical Council into another corner. What on earth will they do with those medical practitioners who choose to ignore the significance of Avogadro’s number? Will they fail to be revalidated because they peddle “snake oil?”

Will they lose their license to practice?

I suppose they will have to – otherwise revalidation will lose every vestige of credibility.

Won’t it, My Black Cat?

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