Pharmaceutical Society of Australia

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) is the peak national professional pharmacy organisation and represents Australia’s 30,000 pharmacists working in all sectors and locations. PSA’s core functions include: providing continuing professional development, education and practice support; developing and advocating standards and guidelines; and representing pharmacists’ role as frontline health professionals.

Do not recommend complementary medicines or therapies unless there is credible evidence of efficacy and the benefit of use outweighs the risk.

Date reviewed: 12 December 2018

Complementary medicines may also be called 'traditional' or 'alternative' medicines and include items such as vitamins, minerals, herbal products, aromatherapy and homoeopathic products. Many of the products available in pharmacies, supermarkets or health food outlets have limited evidence of efficacy. There is some evidence of efficacy for some complementary medicines, however this may be formulation and dose dependent, and health practitioners are encouraged to seek this information before recommending such products.

Supporting evidence
  • Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (2012). Australian pharmaceutical formulary and handbook: the everyday guide to pharmacy practice (22nd ed). Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, Deakin West, ACT
  • Pharmacy Board Guidelines on Practice Specific Issues: 5. Complementary and alternative medicines.
  • Cochrane collaboration – Systematic reviews. Some examples are:
    • Abdelhamid AS, Brown TJ, Brainard JS, et al. Omega‐3 fatty acids for the primary and secondary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2018, Issue 7. Art. No.: CD003177. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003177.pub3.
    • Flowers N, Hartley L, Todkill D, et al. Co‐enzyme Q10 supplementation for the primary prevention of cardiovascular disease. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2014, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD010405. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD010405.pub2.
    • Geng J, Dong J, Ni H, et al. Ginseng for cognition. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2010, Issue 12. Art. No.: CD007769. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD007769.pub2.
  • Braun LA, Tiralongo E, Wilkinson JM, et al. Perceptions, use and attitudes of pharmacy customers on complementary medicines and pharmacy practice. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2010 Jul 20;10(1):1-7
  • Popattia AS, Winch S, Caze AL. Ethical responsibilities of pharmacists when selling complementary medicines: a systematic review. International Journal of Pharmacy Practice. 2018 Apr 1;26(2):93-103
  • Ung COL, Harnett J, Hu H. Community pharmacist’s responsibilities with regards to traditional medicine/complementary medicine products: A systematic literature review. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy. 2017 Jul 1;13(4):686-716
How this list was made How this list was made

A working party of members of the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) was established. Members of the State and Territory Branch Committees were invited to contribute suggested recommendations. Over 40 recommendations were submitted. The working party grouped the recommendations into themes, eliminated ones that were out of scope, reduced the list to twelve and refined the wording. All PSA members were sent an online survey to rank the proposed recommendations, indicate how likely they would be to implement the recommendations in practice, and suggest additional items for consideration.

Based on the survey responses, six recommendations were shortlisted and supporting evidence gathered. The final list was signed off by the PSA Board in November 2018.

Note: PSA uses Vancouver reference style. Where there are more than three authors, only the first three are listed followed by et al.

Download PSA Recommendations