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1.  Pharmacists and Natural Health Products: A systematic analysis of professional responsibilities in Canada 
Pharmacy practice  2008;6(1):33-42.
PURPOSE
Natural health products (natural health products) such as herbs, vitamins and homeopathic medicines are widely available in Canadian pharmacies. The purpose of this paper was to conduct a systematic analysis of Canadian pharmacy policies and guidelines to explore pharmacists’ professional responsibilities with respect to natural health products.
METHODS
Legislation, codes of ethics, standards of practice and guidance documents that apply to the practice of pharmacy in each Canadian jurisdiction were systematically collected and examined to identify if, and how, these instruments establish professional duties in regard to natural health products.
RESULTS
The majority of Canadian jurisdictions now include some explicit reference to natural health products in standards of practice policy or guideline documents. Often natural health products are simply assumed to be included in the over-the-counter (OTC) product category and thus professional responsibilities for OTCs are relevant for natural health products. A minority of provinces have specific policies on natural health products, herbals or homeopathy. In addition, the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities’ Model Standards of Practice specifically refers to natural health products. Most policy documents indicate that pharmacists should inquire about natural health product use when counselling patients and, when asked, should provide accurate information regarding the efficacy, toxicity, side effects or interactions of natural health products. Public messaging also indicates that pharmacists are knowledgeable professionals who can provide evidence-based information about natural health products.
CONCLUSIONS
Explicit policies or guidelines regarding pharmacists’ professional responsibilities with respect to natural health products currently exist in the majority of Canadian jurisdictions.
PMCID: PMC3265537  PMID: 22282720 CAMSID: cams1356
pharmacist; legal responsibilities; natural health products; dietary supplements
2.  Herbal remedy clinical trials in the media: a comparison with the coverage of conventional pharmaceuticals 
BMC Medicine  2008;6:35.
Background
This study systematically compares newspaper coverage of clinical trials for herbal remedies, a popular type of complementary and alternative medicine, with clinical trials for pharmaceuticals using a comparative content analysis. This is a timely inquiry given the recognized importance of the popular press as a source of health information, the complex and significant role of complementary and alternative medicine in individual health-care decisions, and the trend toward evidence-based research for some complementary and alternative medical therapies. We searched PubMed for clinical trials, Lexis/Nexis for newspaper articles in the UK, US, Australia/New Zealand, and Factiva for Canadian newspaper articles from 1995 to 2005. We used a coding frame to analyze and compare 48 pharmaceutical and 57 herbal remedy clinical trials as well as 201 pharmaceutical and 352 herbal remedy newspaper articles.
Results
Herbal remedy clinical trials had similar Jadad scores to pharmaceutical trials but were significantly smaller and of shorter duration. The trials were mostly studies from Western countries and published in high-ranking journals. The majority of pharmaceutical (64%) and herbal remedy (53%) clinical trials had private sector funding involvement. A minority declared further author conflicts of interest. Newspaper coverage of herbal remedy clinical trials was more negative than for pharmaceutical trials; a result only partly explained by the greater proportion of herbal remedy clinical trials reporting negative results (P = 0.0201; χ2 = 7.8129; degrees of freedom = 2). Errors of omission were common in newspaper coverage, with little reporting of dose, sample size, location, and duration of the trial, methods, trial funding, and conflicts of interest. There was an under-reporting of risks, especially for herbal remedies.
Conclusion
Our finding of negative coverage of herbal remedy trials is contrary to the positive trends in most published research based primarily on anecdotal accounts. Our results highlight how media coverage is not providing the public with the information necessary to make informed decisions about medical treatments. Most concerning is the lack of disclosure of trial funding and conflicts of interest that could influence the outcome or reporting of trial results. This lack of reporting may impact the medical research community, which has the most to lose by way of public trust and respect.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-6-35
PMCID: PMC2647939  PMID: 19036123
3.  Canadian Pharmacy Students' Knowledge of Herbal Medicine 
Objective
To determine fourth-year Canadian pharmacy students' knowledge of herbal medicine and whether that knowledge is associated with mandatory instruction in herbal medicine.
Methods
Standardized multiple-choice tests assessing students' herbal knowledge were distributed to all fourth-year BSc pharmacy students at 5 pharmacy schools in Canada.
Results
The Quebec response rate was too low to include in the analysis. Herbal knowledge test scores were positively associated with having previously taken an herbal medicine class and completion of a pharmacy practicum. However, postsecondary education, age, and gender were not associated with herbal knowledge test scores. Students at the University of British Columbia had the highest score, followed by Alberta, Nova Scotia, and Ontario.
Conclusion
Pharmacy students' knowledge of herbal medicine varies depending on the school attended and higher herbal knowledge test scores appear to be most closely related to mandatory herbal instruction.
PMCID: PMC2576414  PMID: 19002275
herbal supplements; complementary and alternative medicine; assessment
4.  Exploring consumer and pharmacist views on the professional role of the pharmacist with respect to natural health products: a study of focus groups 
Background
Natural health products (NHPs) such as herbs, vitamins and homeopathic medicines, are currently available for sale in most Canadian pharmacies. However, most pharmacists report that they have limited knowledge about these products which have been regulated in Canada as a specific sub-category of drugs. In this paper, consumers' and practicing pharmacists' perceptions of pharmacists' professional responsibilities with respect to NHPs are examined.
Methods
A total of 16 focus groups were conducted with consumers (n = 50) and pharmacists (n = 47) from four different cities across Canada (Vancouver, Edmonton, Toronto, and Halifax).
Results
In this paper, we illustrate the ways in which pharmacists' professional responsibilities are impacted by changing consumer needs. Many consumers in the study utilized a wide range of information resources that may or may not have included pharmacists. Nevertheless, the majority of consumers and pharmacists agreed that pharmacists should be knowledgeable about NHPs and felt that pharmacists should be able to manage drug-NHPs interactions as well as identify and evaluate the variety of information available to help consumers make informed decisions.
Conclusion
This paper demonstrates that consumers' expectations and behaviour significantly impact pharmacists' perceptions of their professional responsibilities with respect to NHPs.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-40
PMCID: PMC2483265  PMID: 18625059
5.  Integrative medicine: a tale of two clinics 
Background
Integrative medicine (blending the best of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) with conventional medicine) is becoming increasingly popular.
Objectives
The objectives of this paper are to compare and contrast the development of two teams that set out to establish integrative medical clinics, highlighting key issues found to be common to both settings, and to identify factors that appear to be necessary for integration to occur.
Methods
At St Michael's Hospital (an inner-city teaching hospital in Toronto, Canada), a total of 42 interviews were conducted between February 2004 and August 2006 wi18 key participants (4 administrators, 2 chiropractors, 2 physiotherapists and 10 family physicians). At the CARE (Complementary and Alternative Research and Education) Program at Stollery Children's Hospital, Edmonton, Canada, 44 interviews were conducted with 24 people on four occasions: June 2004, March 2005, November 2006, and June 2007. Basic content analysis was used to identify the key themes from the transcribed interviews.
Results
Despite the contextual differences between the two programs, a striking number of similar themes emerged from the data. The five most important shared themes were: 1) the necessity of "champions" and institutional facilitators to conceive of, advocate for, and bring the programs to fruition; 2) the credibility of these champions and facilitators (and the credibility of the program being established) was key to the acceptance and growth of the program in each setting; 3) the ability to find the "right" practitioners and staff to establish the integrative team was crucial to each program's ultimate success; 4) the importance of trust (both the trustworthiness of the developing program as well as the trust that developed between the practitioners in the integrative team); and 5) the challenge of finding physical space to house the programs.
Conclusion
The programs were ultimately successful because of the credibility of the champions, institutional facilitators and the staff members. Selection of excellent clinicians who were able to work well as a team facilitated the establishment of trust both within the team itself as well as between the team and the host institution.
doi:10.1186/1472-6882-8-32
PMCID: PMC2443104  PMID: 18564418
6.  A systematic review of natural health product treatment for vitiligo 
BMC Dermatology  2008;8:2.
Background
Vitiligo is a hypopigmentation disorder affecting 1 to 4% of the world population. Fifty percent of cases appear before the age of 20 years old, and the disfigurement results in psychiatric morbidity in 16 to 35% of those affected.
Methods
Our objective was to complete a comprehensive, systematic review of the published scientific literature to identify natural health products (NHP) such as vitamins, herbs and other supplements that may have efficacy in the treatment of vitiligo. We searched eight databases including MEDLINE and EMBASE for vitiligo, leucoderma, and various NHP terms. Prospective controlled clinical human trials were identified and assessed for quality.
Results
Fifteen clinical trials were identified, and organized into four categories based on the NHP used for treatment. 1) L-phenylalanine monotherapy was assessed in one trial, and as an adjuvant to phototherapy in three trials. All reported beneficial effects. 2) Three clinical trials utilized different traditional Chinese medicine products. Although each traditional Chinese medicine trial reported benefit in the active groups, the quality of the trials was poor. 3) Six trials investigated the use of plants in the treatment of vitiligo, four using plants as photosensitizing agents. The studies provide weak evidence that photosensitizing plants can be effective in conjunction with phototherapy, and moderate evidence that Ginkgo biloba monotherapy can be useful for vitiligo. 4) Two clinical trials investigated the use of vitamins in the therapy of vitiligo. One tested oral cobalamin with folic acid, and found no significant improvement over control. Another trial combined vitamin E with phototherapy and reported significantly better repigmentation over phototherapy only. It was not possible to pool the data from any studies for meta-analytic purposes due to the wide difference in outcome measures and poor quality ofreporting.
Conclusion
Reports investigating the efficacy of NHPs for vitiligo exist, but are of poor methodological quality and contain significant reporting flaws. L-phenylalanine used with phototherapy, and oral Ginkgo biloba as monotherapy show promise and warrant further investigation.
doi:10.1186/1471-5945-8-2
PMCID: PMC2432048  PMID: 18498646
7.  Pharmacists and Natural Health Products: A systematic analysis of professional responsibilities in Canada 
Pharmacy Practice  2008;6(1):33-42.
Natural health products such as herbs, vitamins and homeopathic medicines are widely available in Canadian pharmacies.
Purpose
to conduct a systematic analysis of Canadian pharmacy policies and guidelines to explore pharmacists’ professional responsibilities with respect to natural health products.
Methods
Legislation, codes of ethics, standards of practice and guidance documents that apply to the practice of pharmacy in each Canadian jurisdiction were systematically collected and examined to identify if, and how, these instruments establish professional duties in regard to natural health products.
Results
The majority of Canadian jurisdictions now include some explicit reference to natural health products in standards of practice policy or guideline documents. Often natural health products are simply assumed to be included in the over-the-counter (OTC) product category and thus professional responsibilities for OTCs are relevant for natural health products. A minority of provinces have specific policies on natural health products, herbals or homeopathy. In addition, the National Association of Pharmacy Regulatory Authorities’ Model Standards of Practice specifically refers to natural health products. Most policy documents indicate that pharmacists should inquire about natural health product use when counselling patients and, when asked, should provide accurate information regarding the efficacy, toxicity, side effects or interactions of natural health products. Public messaging also indicates that pharmacists are knowledgeable professionals who can provide evidence-based information about natural health products.
Conclusions
Explicit policies or guidelines regarding pharmacists’ professional responsibilities with respect to natural health products currently exist in the majority of Canadian jurisdictions.
PMCID: PMC3265537  PMID: 22282720
Natural health products; Practice Guidelines as Topic; Pharmacists; Canada

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