C3 - Homeopathy in pharmacies: The great debate


Organised by the FIP Ethics Expert Group and the FIP SIG on Analytical Sciences and Pharmaceutical Quality


Betty Chaar (The University of Sydney, Australia) and Andy Gray (University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa)


Homeopathic medicines are prepared by taking a substance (e.g. plant, animal material, or chemical), diluting it in water or alcohol, then forcefully hitting the container against a hand or a surface. This process is repeated several times. Homeopathic medicines include pellets placed under the tongue, tablets, liquids, ointments, sprays and creams.

Based on the assessment of the evidence of effectiveness of homeopathy, it has been concluded that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective other than as a placebo.

One opinion is that homeopathy should not be used to treat health conditions that are chronic, serious, or that could become serious. People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness. People who are considering whether to use homeopathy should first get advice from a registered health practitioner, including the pharmacist. Those who use homeopathy should tell their health practitioner and should keep taking any prescribed treatments.

One the other hand, there remain advocates of homeopathy and some pharmacists persist in providing homeopathic treatments in their pharmacies. This is a contentious issue and clarification of a unified position may help pharmacists better understand the implications of the provision of this type of therapy.

This session is also intended to give an opportunity to practising pharmacists to voice their opinions on this matter. Attendees will be provided with voting materials to allow them to express their views in a spontaneous and powerful manner, and for FIP to ascertain genuine opinions about this important matter. The debate and subsequent voting could influence FIP policymaking and statement formulation.


The Great Debate – The motion “Pharmacists should not sell or dispense homeopathic products”

12:30 – 12:34 Introduction by the chairs

  1. 12:34 – 12:57 For the motion
    Geoff Tucker (University of Sheffield, UK)
  2. 12:57 – 13:20 Against the motion
    Christine Glover (Glover’s Integrated Healthcare, UK)
  3. 13:20 – 13:25 Ethical considerations related to homeopathy
    Betty Chaar (The University of Sydney, Australia)
  4. 13:25 – 13:35 Responses and summary
    Facilitator: Andy Gray (University of KwaZulu Natal, South Africa)

    1. Against the motion
      Christine Glover (Glover’s Integrated Healthcare, UK)
    2. For the motion
      Geoff Tucker (University of Sheffield, UK)
  1. 13:35 -14:00 Open forum – Questions from the audience with speakers and chairs as panel/ Vote and concluding comments

Learning Objectives

At the end of this session, participants will be able to:

  1. List the claims for the mechanism of action of homeopathy;
  2. Specify the level of evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy;
  3. Distinguish important ethical issues in the provision of homeopathy;
  4. Identify methods/resources to aid pharmacists’ challenges relating to homeopathy.

Type of session: Knowledge-based