On the shelves of homeopathic treatments in Quebec pharmacies, small blue signs warn shoppers that what they are buying might not work at all.
“The effectiveness of homeopathic products is generally not supported by scientific evidence based on data,” the signs read.
The association representing pharmacy chains and banners, ABCPQ, sent out 6,000 warning signs to pharmacies in early March. They’re meant to “encourage a conversation with a pharmacist,” says representative Hugues Mousseau.
He said shoppers are free to choose any product they want, including homeopathic items. Products are designed to treat a wide variety of issues, from sleep deprivation to the common cold.
In March, Quebec’s College of Physicians publicly stated it does not recognize homeopathy as a valid treatment.
That position is echoed by the Order of Pharmacists. “Right now in scientific literature there’s no conclusive evidence that it works,” says president Bertrand Bolduc.
More than 8,500 homeopathic products are approved by the federal government. There’s currently nothing preventing pharmacies from selling them. “They’re approved by Health Canada so right now we’re in a catch-22,” added Bolduc.
At McGill University’s Office for Science and Society, Jonathan Jarry considers that approval process a joke. “You only have to prove that it’s fairly harmless,” he says, adding that homeopathy is based on bad science. “Its principles fly in the face of physics, biology and chemistry. But yet here we are with these products still being sold in pharmacies.”
The Quebec Union of Homeopaths was not available for comment on this story.