Cape Breton pharmacy pulls homeopathic products from shelves

A drug store in Baddeck, N.S., will no longer carry homeopathic products because its pharmacist says there's a lack of evidence proving their effectiveness.

'If you are not comfortable selling something, you have to make some sort of a stand on it,' says pharmacist

Pharmacist Graham MacKenzie says he does not object to other pharmacies selling homeopathic remedies, but he encourages them to think about it. (Gary Mansfield/CBC News)

A drug store in Baddeck, N.S., will no longer carry homeopathic products because its pharmacist says there's a lack of evidence proving their effectiveness.

"It's almost to the point that it's unethical to sell them," said Graham MacKenzie, the pharmacist and owner of Stone's Pharmasave.

"I would go to the evidence on this and really there was none, zero."

He said the products he was selling that claimed to help with health issues — such as insomnia, teething, cold and flu symptoms — are so diluted they are basically sugar or water.

"The main part that is harmful is somebody taking something for a medical condition when there is nothing in it and they are avoiding proper medical care for that condition," said MacKenzie.

MacKenzie said there are 15 to 20 products that he will no longer sell and he doesn't think it will affect his bottom line.

Homeopath disagrees with MacKenzie's views

Anita Nicholson, a registered member of the Canadian Society of Homeopaths, said she respects MacKenzie's decision, but disagrees with his rationale.

"I see it very differently because there is a lot of evidence out there," she said. "There is a lot of research that has been done and research that has been published."

Nicholson said many people in the conventional medical field do not support homeopathy because they don't understand it.

A collection of homeopathic treatments including preparations made with robinia, castor bean, silver phosphate, and clippings of Wintergreen and rosemary are shown. (Josh Reynolds/Associated Press)

She said conventional medical practitioners don't know where to look for the evidence of efficacy or "they are just not interested."

Nicholson does not think her business will be affected by MacKenzie's decision.

"People who already believe in it and are using a homeopath aren't going to pay attention to it," she said.

Allison Bodnar is CEO of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia. (Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia)

Allison Bodnar, CEO of the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia, said MacKenzie is doing what he thinks is best for his patients.

"Stone's is generally at the forefront in terms of pharmacy practise and is often on the leading edge of making changes," she said.

Stone's was the first pharmacy to remove sugary beverages from drug store shelves.

Bodnar couldn't say whether other pharmacies might follow MacKenzie's lead.

MacKenzie stressed that he does not object to other pharmacists selling homeopathic remedies, but he encourages them to think about it.

"We have to look at what we are selling and if you are not comfortable selling something, you have to make some sort of a stand on it," he said.

About the Author

Yvonne LeBlanc-Smith

Reporter

Yvonne LeBlanc-Smith was born and raised in Cape Breton. She began her career in private radio in Sydney and has been with CBC as a reporter, early morning news editor and sometimes host since 1990.

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