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An Open Letter to Alliance Boots

The Boots brand is synonymous with health care in the United Kingdom. Your website speaks proudly about your role as a health care provider and your commitment to deliver exceptional patient care. For many people, you are their first resource for medical advice; and their chosen dispensary for prescription and non-prescription medicines. The British public trusts Boots.

However, in evidence given recently to the Commons Science and Technology Committee, you admitted that you do not believe homeopathy to be efficacious. Despite this, homeopathic products are offered for sale in Boots pharmacies – many of them bearing the trusted Boots brand.

Not only is this two-hundred-year-old pseudo-therapy implausible, it is scientifically absurd. The purported mechanisms of action fly in the face of our understanding of chemistry, physics, pharmacology and physiology. As you are aware, the best and most rigorous scientific research concludes that homeopathy offers no therapeutic effect beyond placebo, but you continue to sell these products regardless because "customers believe they work". Is this the standard you set for yourselves?

The majority of people do not have the time or inclination to check whether the scientific literature supports the claims of efficacy made by products such as homeopathy. We trust brands such as Boots to check the facts for us, to provide sound medical advice that is in our interest and supply only those products with a demonstrable medical benefit.

We don't expect to find products on the shelf at our local pharmacy which do not work.

Not only are these products ineffective, they can also be dangerous. Patients may delay seeking proper medical assistance because they believe homeopathy can treat their condition. Until recently, the Boots website even went so far as to tell patients that "after taking a homeopathic medicine your symptoms may become slightly worse," and that this is "a sign that the body's natural energies have started to counteract the illness". Advice such as this directly encourages patients to wait before seeking real medical attention, even when their condition deteriorates.

We call upon Boots to withdraw all homeopathic products from your shelves. You should not be involved in the sale of ineffective products, because your customers trust you to do what is right for their health. Surely you agree that your commitment to excellent patient care is better served by supplying only those products whose claims can be substantiated by rigorous scientific research? Or do you really believe that Boots should be in the business of selling placebos to the sick and the injured?

The support lent by Boots to this quack therapy contributes directly to its acceptance as a valid medical treatment by the British public, acceptance it does not warrant and support it does not deserve. Please do the right thing, and remove this bogus therapy from your shelves.

Yours sincerely,

The Merseyside Skeptics Society

Joined by

  • Pete Mella, Sheffield GB
  • Caroline Furnivall, London GB
  • Tom Troughton, Berkhamsted GB
  • Wesley Harding, Caerphilly GB
  • Pietra Castellani-Kraan, Wilmslow GB
  • Monique Castellani-Kraan, Wilmslow GB
  • Amon Münchenhagen, Berlin DE
  • Chris Dennett, Liverpool GB
  • Michael Ryan, Lacoste FR
  • Damiano Rossi, Marina di Carrara (MS) IT
  • abdulsalam almekhlafi, http://www.almekhlafi.com YE
  • Dr Iain Haysom, Bath GB
  • Richard Taggart, Liverpool GB
  • Giles Wendes, Portsmouth GB
  • Linda Pollard, Saffron Walden GB
  • Andrea Hannah, Port Ellen, Islay GB
  • Stefano Polizzi, Venezia IT
  • Eilis Sutton, BSc, Dublin IE
  • Dr Rajin Chowdhury, MBChB, Nottingham GB
  • Jeff Johnston, Stanley GB
  • chander thangavelu, bangalore IN
  • Kathleen Dawes, London GB
  • madeleine anne pearce, london GB
  • Daniel Nolan, London GB
  • Amie Johnson, Warrington GB
  • ... and 2,516 others...

Sign the letter

To add your signature to the letter, please use the form below.

If you'd like to help give the petition greater prominence, you might want to email the letter to Boots, or even print it and post to Boots directly. You can find their contact details on the Boots website.

Latest Comments

  • Michael Ryan says:

    It is fraudulent to knowingly market products that do not work. There is overwhelming evidence that homeopathy does not work. It is dangerous to allow proven medicine to be supplanted by water.

    8th Aug 2011, 13:58
  • abdulsalam almekhlafi says:

    Very good article and this nice explain I want to post this article on my web site http://www.almekhlafi.com with write this site source if you no have any problem Thankyou

    14th Feb 2011, 21:15
  • Giles Wendes says:

    Not cool Boots. Not cool at all.

    12th Jan 2011, 10:36
  • Linda Pollard says:

    Customer choice is useless without proper customer information. Customers rely on respected companies such as Boots to help them in finding suitable *genuine* remedies; you are selling them WATER.

    11th Jan 2011, 17:48
  • Andrea Hannah says:

    Boots gives credence to the unproven claims of homeopathists. It calls into question your professionalism.

    10th Jan 2011, 02:14
  • Stefano Polizzi says:

    Stop selling hopus pocus stuff!

    9th Jan 2011, 10:25
  • Dr Rajin Chowdhury, MBChB says:

    If you do not believe in empiricism (i.e. using evidence to make decision), I challenge you leave your house without using it.

    7th Jan 2011, 22:55
  • Jeff Johnston says:

    Boots is regarded as a respected chemist, by selling a product that you know does not work you confuse the issue and this is dishonest. Please take a stand against hogwash and guide any misguided customers in the direction of effective remedies.

    7th Jan 2011, 20:58
  • chander thangavelu says:

    Exploitation of science and lives! Throw them all to jail... or rather a mental asylum!

    7th Jan 2011, 08:27
  • madeleine anne pearce says:

    This is unconscionable considering the time, energy and money that could go into real cures instead.

    6th Jan 2011, 12:07

Comments do not necessarily represent the views of the 10:23 Campaign or Merseyside Skeptics Society.