DESPITE THE FACT THAT THE EVIDENCE CHECK IS NOT FINISHED, NOR THE PARLIAMENTARY REPORT WRITTEN predictably the media is all over the oral submissions – having waited hungrily for the sound bites and gobbled them up, they’re now spitting them out all over the place…
Boots is on the carpet for selling medicines they ‘don’t believe work’ – pulling that carpet from under their retail sales, by informing the public that Boots is selling them nothing but ‘sugar pills’ at 5 quid a bottle.
So I have a question myself: WHY, Mr. Bennett?
Mr. Bennet, professional standards director for Boots, invited to give evidence to the Science and Technology Committee could have/should have chosen his words more carefully in answer to what turned out to be the loaded question. There is plenty of evidence available showing that homeopathy works and consumers buy it because it works. But if you were worried about public perception of Boots if the Evidence Check didn’t go well, you could have simply said that you had read the research and the jury was still out, but since there was public demand Boots felt it was important to make them available…. but this was the FIRST question from the committee to the panel ….. so WHY not give yourself some leeway, the meeting had only just started?
Why would the standards director for a major retailer of homeopathic remedies say in public, that he was not aware of any evidence that homeopathy works – knowing what the fall out might be – for their retail sales of homeopathic remedies for certain – but for the company itself. It must undermine public trust in a high street institution. Which is not so bad if we’re talking Gerald Ratner admitting that jewellry sold by Ratner’s was ‘total crap’ (it brought his company to near collapse) but this is a high street pharmacy chain – the public relies on them for reliable advice about all kinds of health issues – the fall out must affect all sales and their brand name surely?
Mr. Bennett was careful to use the phrase that has exonerated all manner of corporate and political wrong doings: “I am not aware of…” Not that there isn’t any evidence, but I’m not aware of it, so therefore I can’t be held responsible if it turns out later that there is (and there’s plenty as it happens). Which might be Boots deciding the hedge their bets on this one – but on the day, in this context, and as standards director, it gave the media the gift of a perfect sound bite and now Boots our high street institution is touted as a fraud.
Apart from a gross incompetence it doesn’t make sense. Can we expect him to lose his job as sales fall? Or is there some other reason that Boots decided to sacrifice their retail homeopathy sales, and it perhaps backfired?
But Boots aside, I am constantly in awe of the level of planning and strategy and foresight and forethought in this anti-homeopathy movement – united by a common focus and driven by a powerful mix of righteous indignation, a (misguided) desire to protect the public from themselves, flat earth thinking and a push for more profit and power.
Homeopaths need to keep their heads, mobilise, strategise and take some lessons from this crew!
Phew – Thanks to the efficiency of the UK parliamentary committee admin staff I don’t have to do the transcript myself – they just posted the Uncorrected Oral Submissions on line – I’ll go through with my own notes and check it out – but their version is here: