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Boots remove website after complaints from consumers

February 04 2010

As part of an ongoing appeal to Alliance Boots to reconsider the sale and promotion of homeopathic remedies, the 10:23 Campaign submitted a letter of complaint detailing nineteen separate instances of content to be reviewed by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). The document, submitted on January 26th, detailed what we believe to be irregularities regarding the language used to promote and describe the homeopathic products available from Boots through its online store and, more generally, in the information surrounding homeopathy that Boots supplies to consumers.

A significant section of the complaint regarded information contained within the company's educational website 'Boots Learning Store', and in particular the 'Alternative Medicine' module offered to children over 16. As of 10:00am on February 2nd, Boots has withdrawn this module from its website, and removed all references to homeopathy within its online 'learning store'. Where a significant chapter promoting the efficacy of homeopathy for a variety of ailments once could be found, the website now carries the following message:

"The Alternative Medicine module on Boots Learning Store is not available now. This module was written specifically to support an element of the AQA AS Science for Public Understanding course. This course was withdrawn in 2009 and replaced by the Science in Society course with a new specification."

Needless to say, the 10:23 campaign and the Merseyside Skeptics Society fully support Boots in their withdrawal of the unscientific information previously contained within this area of the website. That the information was available online for four months after the course it was designed to support had been discontinued was alarming - we would like to congratulate Boots in taking this positive step towards the removal of support for the messaging contained within the chapter.

If the contents of the dossier we provided helped in anyway to alert Boots as to the unscientific nature of the information they were presenting to children as an educational tool, and helped to contribute towards the swift and decisive action they took in removing the offending pages from their site three working days after receiving our dossier, we are of course delighted to have been of assistance.

Unfortunately, the learning store was not the full extent of the irregularities we asked the MHRA to investigate. We see this initial action from the nation's most respected pharmacist as a promising step in the right direction, and applaud them accordingly. We look forward to further action on the points of interest we raised in the MHRA dossier, and in our open letter appeal to their policy of customer service and ethical treatments - an open letter now signed by over 2000 consumers.

One thing is clear - the involvement of over 400 concerned participants in our recent 'overdose' demonstrations around the country serves to highlight the need for Boots to review their support for homeopathy. If this first action is an indication of future intent, we applaud Boots greatly and look forward to their full removal of homeopathic remedies from their shelves. If they're able to take this brave and much-needed action, we look forward to once more championing the company as a provider of exceptional customer care.