Complementary medicine vending machines (with coke)… has it all gone too far?

“Vitamin Warehouse is now installing the world’s first refrigerated vitamins and health supplements vending machines with 42inc digitalised android touch screen computers allowing customers direct chat one on one with any of the brands sold in our machines. As well as chat to any of the 4000+ Australian Naturalcare professionals.” From: http://www.vitaminwarehouse.com.au/

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The vending machines sell vitamins, medicines, perfumes and even 99c cans of soft drink.  These screens allow “the purchase of over 1,000 products of Swisse, Blackmores, Nature’s Own, Healthy Care, Centrum, Herron, Cenovis and every other brand not previously possible in any current pharmacy health food store or supermarket retail outlet.”

This highlights a key question that is currently being debated in AJP and was also the subject of a recent ABC 4-Corners program. Are complementary medicines (vitamins, herbals, etc.) normal items of commerce that can be sold anywhere without the availability of professional advice (as they currently are in supermarkets)?

Alternatively, given that these products are currently classified as “medicines” by the TGA, and they can have problems such as side-effects (e.g. allergy, Echinacea) and drug interactions (St John’s wort), should they only be sold where advice from a health professional is available?

Also, will advice from a naturopath in a health food store, or from the 4000+ Australian Naturalcare professionals allegedly available from the android touch screen of the vending machines, be better or worse than that obtained from a pharmacy: see https://www.choice.com.au/health-and-body/health-practitioners/doctors/articles/pharmacy-advice-for-stress?  Also: https://ajp.com.au/news/pharmacy-slammed-cm-kickback-scandal/.

This would make another interesting project for Choice mystery shoppers!

Finally, one of the recommendations of the MMD Review (no 48) accepted by the government was undertaking a review of the range of complementary medicinal products, currently listed in the ARTG and subject to regulation under the medicines framework, with a view to ensuring that products that might best be regulated under other regulatory frameworks, without undermining public health and safety, are removed from the auspices of the Act.  Vitamins and minerals have been suggested as one such category of product. But I can’t see how this would not undermine public health and consumer protection.

 

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About Dr Ken Harvey

Public Health Physician, Medical activitist
This entry was posted in Complementary medicine, Pharmaceutical Promotion and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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