Coles Supermarkets finally responds..

In response to my Open letter to Coles Supermarkets (which is also available at The Manly Daily), Coles Supermarkets have finally responded. I can’t say that I’m surprised at the response – it’s about what I expected; and it would seem that the original letter was not actually read – as there is not a single acknowledgement of the issues raised.

I’ll Fisk the letter, and send it back to Coles for further comment.

Dear Mr Mills

Thank you for your recent email regarding the evailability of homoeopathic products at Coles. Please accept our apologies for the unintended delay in responding to you.

After receiving your request, we contacted our Merchandise Team and wish to advise that at Coles our customers come always first and hence we decided to range the Brauer range of products to give customers the opportunity to purchase them from Coles.

Thanks for taking the time to respond.

Unfortunately, it must be said that the response is less than satisfying.

The sale of sugar pills as medicine is a case of customer wallets coming first; regardless of the “our customers come first” wrapping Coles Supermarkets may wish to give it.

Being so inspired to “give customers the opportunity to purchase […] from Coles”, does Coles intend to acquire and sell other equally ineffective products, such as the “Anti Hair Lice” Unicorn Badge? What about the “Magnetic” Menopause Relief pad? Is this the new direction Coles Supermarkets wishes to take its company – to be the purveyor of pseudo-science?

As apparently no one looked at the clinical evidence:
British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 2002 December; 54(6): 577–582
doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2125.2002.01699.xfollow

What will it take to convince Coles Supermarkets that selling Homoeopathy is intellectually retarded?

If no one read or understood what was written in the original letter I am happy organise medical doctors to get in contact (person or phone) with someone in a position to begin the phasing-out of the sale of Homoeopathy by Coles Supermarkets.

The Brauer products have been around for a number of years and are ranged in most pharmacies and health food stores in Australia.

I absolutely agree. Brauer have been successful in selling sugar pills at a massively inflated price to both the public, and to Coles. Unfortunately, the sale of their product in Pharmacies is not indicative of efficacy.

For instance, until recently pharmacies were still selling PowerBalance Bands – A product with unsubstantiated, pseudo-scientific claims. Similar to your response, pharmacies provide the intellectually and ethically challenged concept of “choice”. It is a poor reason to stock a product that is not just unproven, but has been systematically disproved. Even today, some pharmacies still sell EKEN Power Bands – the same product as PowerBalance, but under a different brand name.

Brauer Natural Medicine operates a manufacturing facility that is licenced by the Therapeutic Goods Administration to produce listed therapeutic goods for sale in Australia. These products are made in strict accordance with the TGA’s code of Good Manufacturing Practice.

This has NOTHING to do with what I have contacted Coles about.

The fact that Brauer have a licence from the TGA to manufacture goods demonstrates nothing more than the TGA being satisfied that the manufacturing PROCESS adheres to the TGA’s regulations.

I am not making a claim about an unsafe manufacturing process. I am informing you, Coles, that what you have decided is that it is ethically permissible to sell products that do not have a sound theoretical basis, have not been proven to work, and have been systematically disproved.

If it sounds a though I am repeating, I am – I want to be very clear: What you are selling is pseudo-science.

Each individual product is formulated using ingredients that have a history of use for the listed indications, that in some cases goes back nearly 200 years.

Tradition or antiquity is not sufficient evidential basis for a product that claims to be a medicine. It is well worth noting that 200 years ago (when homoeopathy was invented) it was not known that germs existed, that blood-letting was a good way to make people get better because they believed they may have had an excess of “yellow bile, or “black bile”, and it was believed that people got sick because of “bad air”; in fact, advocates of Homeopathy believe that “disruptions in the body’s vital force” – from magical “bad air” – are the cause of all illnesses — Obviously, modern medicine has moved on from nonsensical beliefs such as these.

I’m confident that the Managing Director of Coles, Ian McLeod would rather take a proven sleep drug over a sugar pills to sleep better at night (perhaps you may wish to ask him to confirm); yet this is the useless “choice” being advocated by Coles through the sale of Homoeopathy – a product with NO robust clinical evidence for its use.

In accordance with the TGA’s requirements for listed products, Brauer holds the evidence to substantiate the indications listed for these products.

The “evidence” held by Brauer is nothing more than a Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia – A book that demonstrates that Homoeopathy was used more than a couple of decades ago. Again, this is not evidence that the product works – rather, it is evidence that the product was used beyond a specified quantity of years. Repeating again: This is NOT evidence that the product works.

We care about our customers wellness and by ranging homeopathic products we are giving them a natural product choice, should they wish to purchase.

While sincerity for customer wellness is nice to hear, the rhetoric fails to be put in to practice. The complete opposite is demonstrated. What Coles Supermarkets is doing is confusing a situation for people who do not understand what homoeopathy is, which may very well lead them down a path of using it for other serious ailments – for which there are a HUGE number of homoeopaths quite willing to tell them they can take Homoeopathy as an Anti-Malarial, as a cure for cancer, as a way to treat autism, and as a treatment for serious infections.

Here’s the equivalent “choice” you provide –

You have cancer. Do you want:

1. The best possible medical treatment
2. To be slapped with a fish

While the correct answer is blatantly obvious, by providing “choice” where it is redundant Coles gives people the equivalent “choice” of treating cancer with a fish-slapping.

Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact us. We appreciate your feedback and look forward to your future custom at Coles.

Yours sincerely

While I understand that Brauer would have been consulted for the response, it seems as though Brauer approached Coles to sell their product for them – If this was not the case, did Coles’ Merchandise Team seek out Brauer before or after deciding it was an good idea to falsely sell sugar pills as a medicine?

Kind Regards,

Bayani Mills

An Open Letter to Coles Supermarkets regarding the sale of Homeopathy

To whom it may concern,

It is with shock and disappointment that I came across the sale of Homeopathic products at your Warringah Mall Store in Brookvale on the 10th of June 2011.

So-Called Complementary Medicine

I would hope that the decision to sell Homoeopathic products was not one of “consumer choice” as most customers do not know what a Homoeopathic Product is – often believing that homoeopathy uses “natural” or “herbal” ingredients. This is in contrary to the use of such homoeopathic ingredients as the Berlin Wall,

Mobile Phone, Dolphin Song, and The Colour Purple – all carrying the same claims of efficacy.

Customers are also generally uninformed of how ingredients are listed on packets of Homoeopathic Products, often mistaking X or C as the potency of an ingredient, as opposed to its actual indication of dilution.

Proponents of Homoeopathy will attest that they believe that serial dilutions of an ingredient will leave a “vibrational energy” – essentially, they believe that the water they shake it in will have a memory – This belief is deluded and has no basis in reality.

It is with shock and disappointment that Coles Supermarkets would sell homoeopathic products because:

  1. The proposed mechanism is scientifically implausible and unsubstantiated.
  2. The claimed efficacy is not substantiated by any robust study of homoeopathy.
  3. Systematic Reviews of Systematic Reviews of the evidence for Homoeopathy consistently find it is a product with no effect beyond placebo.

British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 2002 December; 54(6): 577–582
doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2125.2002.01699.x

Homoeopathy has recently been in the news because of deaths attributed to it. In both instances Homoeopathy was used to treat an ailment for which a conventional treatment exists.

Customers may be attempting to self-medicate a potentially serious ailment or disease with deadly consequences by using these products.

Insomnia and Snoring problems are conditions that can lead to anxiety and depression, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes and sufferers are categorically at higher risk of being in an automotive accident because of their conditions; of which the use of Homoeopathic Medicines may increase their risk factors to them.

In late 2010 the UK Science and Technology Committee:

  • Recommended no further clinical trials of homeopathy.
  • Stipulated that the evidence shows homeopathy doesn’t work.
  • That the explanations for why homeopathy works are “scientifically implausible.”
  • And that the Committee views homeopathy as placebo.

Brauer, the particular manufacturer from which Coles Supermarkets purchases homoeopathy was recently featured on Today Tonight in Adelaide. You may have not seen the segment, but you may watch it at this link:


Damning of all, is that the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released a draft statement about Homoeopathy stating..

“it is unethical for health practitioners to treat patients using homeopathy, for the reason that homeopathy – as a medicine or procedure – has been shown not to be efficacious.”

The desired outcome is simple – that Coles Supermarkets, in its’ endeavour to sell products to its customers that are effective, reverses its decision to sell homoeopathic products.


Kind regards,

Bayani Mills