We heard from the doctors on The Big Questions today, but what about the pharmacist?

Give me a viable opportunity to speak any day and I'll take it!
Oh, how I like to talk!

If I rightly remember, today marked my fifth appearance on BBC TV’s The Big Questions. I think that was symbolised perfectly when Nicky Campbell was very generous in asking the audience around me to applaud me for the fact that I have become a regular on the programme north of the border. The audience were equally as generous in their appreciation through their applause which I did not expect – a very kind moment! And it’s fun being in the audience live as the programme goes out – the adrenaline goes through you like a car engine.

However, I was disappointed not to have my voice heard on the homeopathy debate that featured on today’s programme. I do not support taxpayers’ money being spent on a kind of “treatment” that hasn’t got any scientific or clinical backing, especially at a time of austerity and where resources within the health service are being stretched to breaking point. But this was not necessarily the only point that I had intended or wanted to make. Much ground was covered, but one key fact was missing which I was keen to highlight on air and which I shall highlight now.

It is to my understanding that according to Medicines, Ethics and Practice (the professional guide for pharmacists which is published annually by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society), the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) does not require homeopathic treatments to prove it’s effectiveness. This is the fundamental point that I think vindicates my stance and the position of not supporting homeopathy being prescribed on the NHS.

You would expect medicines such as ibuprofen and aspirin to be effective for it’s licensed indications. But you cannot expect homeopathic remedies to achieve the same level of effectiveness when administered. So why on earth are they being prescribed within the NHS?

To be fair, I don’t have a problem with people making a personal choice to use homeopathy, but not on taxpayers’ watches. And it must be emphasised that it should never be seen as a replacement for conventional pharmaceutical therapies. Call me narrow minded if you want if you have seen me contribute on a past edition of The Big Questions before, but because of the job that I do and the insight and knowledge I hold, I was really gutted not to make a meaningful contribution on air today, especially in the context of things.

Maybe I’m a very underestimated individual or I’ve underestimated my own input. You decide.

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