Friday, April 4, 2014

Chain Pharmacies and Your Health

About a month ago CVS announced a change in policy.  They intend to totally end the sale of tobacco products in their stores by October.  “The company’s move was yet another sign of its metamorphosis into becoming more of a health care provider than a largely retail business.”  Is that so?

Perhaps they should also take a look at the rest of their products.  According to their website they sell literally hundreds of dietary supplements, but these are not considered healthy by many medical professionals including the Mayo Clinic and Johns Hopkins.  The experts know that they are unregulated, can conflict with prescription medications and with each other, and that many are ineffective.

Just as one example, when a man asked Johns Hopkins to advise him on the use of many supplements including “zinc, pyridoxine HCL, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, pumpkin seed concentrate, flaxseed oil, and soy” to treat his medical condition, he got the following answer.  “Have you ever stopped to think about what you might be doing to your health, or whether you are taking unnecessary risks? If you have a family, have you considered the consequences of your actions for them? None of the substances you mention is regulated by the FDA (Federal Drug Administration), and the formulations can vary from one manufacturer to another, so you can never be sure that what you're taking is really the same substance that others are writing or talking about.”

As I have mentioned several times in the past, some supplements are merely a waste of money while others pose real dangers.  (Even the ones with proven benefits are better when taken in food than by pill.)  Some people, though, prefer to get their medical advice from friends, family and social media.  As long as the popular opinion is on their side, CVS doesn’t seem to care about these issues.  They will change policy as a marketing move, figuring that in the long run they will make up the loss of tobacco sales by building a reputation of concern for your health, but given all the facts, I have to question their sincerity.

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