By Eric Foxman, Pharm. (Ret.), AAHP Secretary
A hundred years ago the homeopathic industry was, not surprisingly, vastly different. There was no industrial production, and little marketing to consumers. A homeopathic pharmacy was just that: pharmacies making homeopathic products to serve homeopathic physicians, with little business focus on consumers.
One needs to view this in the context of a major transformation in the first two decades of the 20th century: the Flexner Report [*}, published in 1910, provided a basis for philanthropic organizations to financially support only institutions adhering to Abraham Flexner’s narrow view of what medical education should comprise. Homeopathy was excluded from Flexner’s narrow view; in fact, the homeopathic discipline was negatively characterized in his report, simply because it did not conform to his own scientific training.
Over the next decade, one after another, homeopathic teaching institutions closed, leading to fewer and fewer homeopathically trained physicians entering practice. This, coupled with the aging and retirement of existing practitioners, led to a rapid diminishing of the number of homeopathic clinicians. For an industry-focused almost exclusively on serving homeopathic physicians, this was a rapidly developing crisis by the early 1920s.
Into this milieu, several influential homeopathic companies banded together in a loose grouping to support one another. Thus, the American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists (AAHP) was formed in 1923. Early member companies included Boericke & Tafel; Ehrhart & Karl; Humphrey’s Pharmacal; John A. Borneman & Sons; Luyties Pharmacal; and Otis Clapp & Sons.
The newly formed association could not reverse the tides of change impacting the entire homeopathic community. Yet, the collegiality and communication within the association, despite the members’ natural competition in a slowly shrinking market, made it possible for the industry to survive the next 50 years while being well positioned for the amazing changes that began in the 1970s.
A century after AAHP’s founding, that is a remarkable lesson to hold before us in the challenges of today’s regulatory environment. We can all be proud as our 100th anniversary approaches in 2023.
* The Flexner Report of 1910 and Its Impact on Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Psychiatry in North America in the 20th Century, 2012, Frank W. Stahnisch, Marja Verhoef, 10.1155/2012/647896, Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC35, accessed 6/26/22.