BADDECK, N.S. — Pharmacist Graham MacKenzie is putting a stop to the sale of all homeopathic products in the store he has owned since 2001.
Stone’s Drug Store has already taken the products off shelves, a decision MacKenzie made based on what he said is a lack of clinical research supporting their effectiveness.
“When I started looking at the evidence over the years, it became more and more questionable to the point that I couldn’t do it anymore,” he said during a phone interview from the store in Baddeck.
“I want to stress … this has nothing to do with slamming any pharmacists, it’s more the products I am pointing at.”
MacKenzie said he is using his decision to stop selling the products as an educational campaign and doesn’t think many of his customers will be upset by the change.
“I know a lot of people are confused about homeopathy. Some people might not know what it is and some people might think it’s an actual legitimate choice,” he said.
Homeopathic treatments have been around since 1796 and are very popular in some European countries like France and Switzerland.
MacKenzie said 25 years ago he would recommend the products to some clients but now feels homeopathic products “really do nothing” and worries someone might not seek medical advice because they believe the products will work.
“I have been thinking about this for a while now. There’s such a growing sentiment within the professional community on this, both in person and online, social media, that really made me think I am selling something that has nothing (beneficial) in it,” MacKenzie said.
“I think as pharmacists we’re on a platform where we have to be accountable for what we are selling. This is my own personal decision.”
MacKenzie said the homeopathic products he sold were mostly from Similasan, a Swiss company, and Boiron, a French company. The most common ones bought were for treatment of colds, flus, coughs, pink eye, ear infections and baby teething.
Daniel Dereser is the CEO of the Canadian branch of Boiron and has a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of the Mediterranean Aix-Marseille II in France. While he respects MacKenzie’s decision to stop selling homeopathic products he also disagrees with it.
“Every Canadian should have access and choice to any type of therapies that are allowed. Canadians should have access to medicines that are Health Canada regulated,” he told the Post from his office in Montreal.
“I think his point of view does not reflect the scientific reality worldwide … I would love to debate or exchange (information) with him.”
According to Dereser there are many studies done, clinical and biological, that prove homeopathic products can be beneficial, referencing the Homeopathy Research Institute’s website (hri-research.org) as a place to find some of these.
He said more Canadians are looking for complementary medicines, like homeopathic products, that don’t cause drug interactions or bad side effects because they are concerned about safety.
“My point of view is there’s a place for every therapy … It is not one therapy against the other. It is not an alternative approach, but more a complementary approach,” Dereser said.
“I would say one example, my son got injured last Saturday and I’ve been using arnica for his muscle pain and we saw significant improvement. If we did not see significant improvement after one day or two days, I would probably have used regular conventional medicine.”
For Stone’s Drug Store, MacKenzie doesn’t think there will be much loss of revenue from discontinuing the sale of homeopathic products because they aren’t big sellers.
He anticipates it will be much less than the loss of revenue that resulted from MacKenzie’s decision in 2015 to stop selling sugary drinks. It is believed MacKenzie was the first pharmacy owner to do this in Nova Scotia.
What: System of alternative medicine
Developed by: Samuel Hahnemann
Principle: “Like cure like”