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Am J Pharm Educ. 2006 Dec 15;70(6):141.

Ethical, scientific, and educational concerns with unproven medications.

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College of Pharmacy, Southwestern Oklahoma State University, Weatherford, OK 73096, USA.


Quackery (promotion of products that do not work or have not been proven to work) was once a commonly used term within the pharmacy and medical communities. However, an increasingly anti-scientific national climate culminated in passage of the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act, which granted unprecedented legitimacy to "dietary supplements" that had not been scientifically proven to be effective and/or safe. In part, this was facilitated when professional pharmacy magazines and journals published advertisements and articles promoting these unproven medications. Gradually, pharmacy codes of ethics eliminated references to quackery, and some pharmacy organizations seemed to accept the unproven medications they once exhorted the pharmacist not to sell. The profession's shift in attitude toward unproven medications occurred as the medical community at large began to realize the value of evidence-based medicine. Academicians must resist pressure to present unproven therapies as realistic alternatives for medications with scientific proof of safety and efficacy. They must stress the value of evidence-based medicine and urge students and pharmacists to recommend only those medications with evidence-based proof of safety and efficacy.

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