Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Professional advice?

From age 18-25 I was a Pharmacy Assistant. I know, it's ironic right? I sold an awful lot of vaccines and disposable nappies among other things, but guess what was one of our top sellers? Artificial baby milk (ABM). We used to buy that shit in by the pallet load and sell it cheaper than the supermarket.
In one chemist I worked in we had the ABM right next to where the baby nurse used to weigh babies. There were loyalty cards (not sure they are still allowed) where the 7th tin was free and promotions where you could win children's big ticket toys by buying the ABM and entering into a draw. We had bags with logos on them and kids toys with embroidered slogans.

So with all of that ABM on hand do you want to know how much information I was given in EIGHT years (one of which I was a manager)about breastfeeding or the risks of ABM?

NONE. Exactly none.

I was, however, given plenty of information from the ABM companies about things in their product that made it "like" mothers milk or why it was better than other brands. I was taken out to lunch and given buying deals so we could sell the ABM cheaply-as long as we had so many facings of the cans.

Think about that.

Then think about where you think one of the first places a Mama goes at 5pm when they have a baby that won't settle and they are needing reassurance or advice. The friendly local pharmacy. Complete with fantastic staff-that are trained by ABM companies. Often staff are not yet mothers or fathers or from a generation or so ago when the risks of ABM were just not known. They might even have a couple of kids who are ABM fed and "just fine". I personally put the first nail in the coffin of the breastfeeding relationship of a lot of Mamas and babies by suggesting comp feeds and pointing out the benefits of certain brands to unsure women. As I was trained to do.

It seems to me that there is a big hole in breastfeeding education here. There are a big group of professionals who are handing out advice with perhaps no idea of the risk. Pharmacies are treated as a retail outlet but there is a big difference between taking a can off the shelf of a supermarket and asking a pharmacy assistant for advice. Because you expect the advice on the long term feeding of your child to be what is best for your baby-not a sales pitch.


Jess said...

What a huge hole in the information web! This is exactly why I am doing my ABA training, would love to set up some training sessions with pharmasists.

Kestrel said...

WELL SAID - your post should be required reading for all pharmacists.

Sazz said...

Thanks for writing this. Such an important issue and an area in obvious need of lactivist advocacy!

Women need to know that they can't trust pharmacists! I hope this post gets linked to far and wide!

Rachael said...

Unfortunately many doctors aren't much better. Scary!

Sif said...

It's funny how so many people in our consider themselves to be advertising savvy; to know when they're being pitched a sale. However, when it comes to medication and nutrition, especially of babies, they have so much trust. Like one woman said on the news today, you expect suff that has passed Australian Safety Standards to be, well, SAFE!

Alice and Mother said...

Another reason that prescriptions would be good for ABM, mind you dr's would hand it out willy nilly as they do with so many other damaging things.

Clel said...

Wow. Next time Luke rolls his eyes at one of your rants, tell him you're just dispensing with your pharm-karma.

katepickle said...

such an unrecognised area... I bet HEAPS of people get advice from chemist all the time and don't often stop to think how well grounded that advice is or isn't!

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