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Why do pharmacists sell homoeopathic remedies?

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: (Published 19 January 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d349
  1. Fred Kavalier, GP, north London
  1. kavalier{at}

I am a great believer in the ability of the human body to heal itself, and I think it is sensible to stay away from doctors and take as little medicine as possible. This is why I support the homoeopathic practice of not giving any medicine to patients who don’t have much wrong with them. But I like to think that I am more honest than most homoeopaths, so I tell patients that their vague feeling of malaise is likely to sort itself out if they are prepared to wait. Rather than going through the charade of prescribing a few sugar pills to be taken on a clean tongue, it seems simpler to prescribe nothing at all.

But a problem arises when a patient has an illness that won’t get better without treatment. Modern scientific medicine, for all its failings, has a few treatments that really do make a difference.

This came home to me a few years ago when I had a patient who was planning to travel to the Sahara desert to make …

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