Pharmacists should provide CAM tips

Pharmacists should counsel patients purchasing complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs), to ensure they can make informed decisions before buying products, the author of a new research paper believes.

University of Queensland School of Pharmacy’s Dr Adam La Caze, said the sale of CAMs raised ethical challenges for pharmacists, noting many products lack evidence of efficacy, UQ News reported.

“Pharmacists also know complementary medicines can cause harm due to adverse effects, interactions with other medications and delays in seeking further treatment,” he said.

The paper, published in Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, outlined an ethical framework for the responsibilities of pharmacists when selling CAMs noting pharmacists should provide evidence-based recommendations to patients regarding complementary products, train staff to ensure they provide suitable advice to customers enquiring about CAMS, and that pharmacists “must be vigilant for CAM harm and intervene if risk of harm is significant”.

“Our research recognised the conflict between a pharmacist’s responsibility to respect consumer health choice and their duty to provide evidence-based advice,” La Caze said. 

“Pharmacists are accessible and have the skills and knowledge to help people use complementary medicines safely. This framework closes an information gap for pharmacists about their role and responsibilities in advising on complementary medicine use.  We hope our work helps ensure that complementary medicines remain available in community pharmacies in a way that benefits the consumer.”

Source:, Tuesday 1 September 2020.

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