Canada’s college for family doctors says it will review its sponsor and exhibitor policies after some doctors criticized the group for allowing companies to promote homeopathic and herbal remedies to physicians at a national conference.
The Family Medicine Forum, organized by the College of Family Physicians of Canada, the largest annual conference for family doctors in Canada, is set to take place in Toronto next month. Vendors scheduled to attend include Pascoe Canada Inc., Boiron Canada Inc. and others that sell homeopathic and naturopathic products aimed at adults and children. Such remedies are controversial because they are not backed by conventional scientific evidence.
Philippe Chouinard, a family physician based in Moncton, started a petition calling on the college to change its criteria for exhibitors and prohibit companies from marketing “obvious pseudoscience to Canadian physicians.” Dr. Chouinard’s petition has received more than 200 signatures since it was launched on Oct. 14.
“You’re going to a conference where you’re expecting to hear about standards of care and best practices,” Dr. Chouinard said in an interview. “Why are we even allowing them to be there? You’re kind of legitimizing the pseudoscience if you allow them there.”
In response, the college said Friday it will start a review next year of all sponsors and exhibitors for its next conference. The vendors scheduled to attend this year will still be allowed to showcase their products, the college said.
The Family Medicine Forum mobile application states the exhibit hall is “a marketplace that provides delegates the opportunity to interact with exhibitors offering a wide range of products and services. Some may be controversial but all contribute to the dialogue that makes FMF a vibrant intellectual experience.”
The app says the college “does not endorse or accept responsibility for the presence of inaccurate or biased materials.”
In a statement, René Kautz, chief executive of Pascoe Canada, said the company will showcase two of its products at the conference. One is a sleep aid and one is used to help achieve a balanced mood, according to the statement.
Mr. Kautz wrote that the products “are effectively used as a safer alternative to many chemical drugs” in many countries around the world.