Big pharmaceutical companies, or 'big pharma', are synonymous with big medical production, big money and a big impact on the type of healthcare products we can access.
One thing that's rarely expected from big pharma is
homeopathic cures, which are more typically found in the domain of
However, at least one big pharma company in Australia is selling homeopathic products on a very large scale.
At least one big pharma company in Australia is selling homeopathic products on a very large scale
Pharmacare, which boasts on LinkedIn that it's "the largest private, Australian-owned consumer health, fitness and consumer goods company in the country", currently operates 23 brands, including Bioglan.
According to their website, their products are available in "5200 pharmacies, 3000 supermarket outlets, department and variety stores nationwide, and hundreds of overseas outlets in Asia, America and Europe."
In 2017, we awarded Bioglan and another Pharmacare brand, Nature's Way, a Shonky for its outrageous claims that sticky, sugary lollies are in fact good for teeth.
This year, Pharmacare and Bioglan receive another dubious honour for its over-the-counter Melatonin Homeopathic Sleep Formula.
While melatonin (currently a prescription-only medicine in Australia) is known to promote sleep and is used to help people suffering jet lag or sleep disorders, there's no reliable evidence that homeopathic melatonin (or homeopathic products in general) has any effect other than as a placebo.
Despite this, the company makes the claim that Bioglan Melatonin helps "relieve mild temporary insomnia and symptoms of mild nervous tension".
Unlike over-the-counter homeopathic melatonin, prescription melatonin tablets have been widely studied and accepted as a jet lag treatment.
On-pack claims you might lose sleep over
Bioglan's Melatonin Homeopathic Sleep Formula is also available in chewable tablet form or spray and both products promise to "relieve mild temporary insomnia".
On the product's web page, we're told "results depend on how often the homeopathic remedy is taken, not on the quantity used", because in homeopathy, "the amount consumed is not relevant, children are treated in the same way as adults".
In homeopathy, "the amount consumed is not relevant, children are treated in the same way as adults"
However, directions for the tablet version state, "To aid sleep: Chew 3-5 tablets half an hour before bedtime", while the spray is "rapidly absorbed to start working quickly".
To be fair to Bioglan, consuming more does support the primary reason for this product's existence - the more tablets people chew, the sooner they'll potentially cough up another $24.50 (RRP).
Melatonin Homeopathic Sleep Formula is packaged like medication and sold in a pharmacy.
But with murky claims that are not supported with evidence, wasting money is the only area where this product is proven to be effective.
Not only does Bioglan Melatonin not help you sleep, it's Shonky enough that you might lose sleep worrying about the brazen trickery this company gets away with.