The complicity of revered academic institutions in the promotion of pseudoscience today takes another step forward.
The University of the Sciences in Philadelphia (USP), known formerly as the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science (PCP&S), will bestow an honorary Doctor(ate) of Science on John A Borneman, III, to celebrate their Founders’ Day.
From the university press release:
Borneman has spent his lifetime committed to the development and regulation of homeopathic medicine within the United States. He is the third of four generations of “John Bornemans” to attend the Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. Upon graduation, Borneman joined the firm of John A. Borneman and Sons, Homeopathic Pharmacists, begun by his grandfather in 1907. In 1980, Borneman was a founding director of the newly incorporated Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia Convention of the United States (HPCUS), and in 1983, he was elected the second president of the organization. In the course of his 25 years as president, his leadership evolved HPCUS into a respected international body of scientists and experts consulted by governments world-wide as the leader in homeopathic regulation. His work has led to the wide availability of standardized, high-quality medications to the general public. In Aug. 2008, Borneman assumed the role of HPCUS chairman of the board, where he continues to be a gentle guiding force in a rapidly growing industry. He continues to lecture on homeopathy to both pharmacy and physician assistant students at University of the Sciences, and maintains a practice in community pharmacy and patient care at Treatment Options Pharmacy in King of Prussia, Pa.
Homeopathy is a fraudulent representation of pharmacy and the pharmaceutical sciences that continues to exist in the United States due solely to political, not scientific, reasons. Indeed, homeopathic remedies are defined as drugs in the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act [21 U.S.C. 321] Section 201(g)(1) as a result of the 1938 actions of U.S. Senator Royal Copeland (D-NY), a noted homeopath of his time. But scientifically, homeopathic remedies are nothing more than highly-purified water misrepresented as medicine based upon an archaic practice that is diametrically opposed to all pharmacological principles. The mental gymnastics required to teach chemistry, pharmacology, and therapeutics while also embracing homeopathy are beyond the skills of anyone trained in the scientific method.
The Philadelphia College of Pharmacy was the first US institution dedicated to the profession, founded in 1821 in the city’s Carpenters’ Hall. The school counts among its graduates the founders and namesakes of the country’s foremost pharmaceutical companies such as Dr Eli Lilly (1907) and his father Josiah K Lilly (1882), Gerald F Rorer (1931), William R Warner (1856), Robert L McNeil, Jr, (1938) and his grandfather Robert McNeil (1876), John Wyeth (1854), Silias M Burroughs (1877), and Sir Henry S Wellcome (1874).
Among my contemporaries (yes, I was a PCP&S undergrad), the college has graduated one of the top ten most highly-cited authors in the biomedical sciences, Dr Kenneth A Kinzler (1983), a cancer researcher at Johns Hopkins, as well as our own guest blogger last Friday, Dr Michael Wolfe (1984), Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School. On the business side, another highly-successful graduate (1986) was Mary A Parenti, PharmD, former President and Chief Executive Officer of Medical Education Systems – when she sold her company, she donated over a million dollars to the university to establish a plaza in her parent’s name, providing a beautiful urban oasis for students and faculty to gather at this otherwise urban, landlocked campus.
At the time Parenti earned her degrees, the school had a total of 19,000 graduates since 1821.
So, today, on Founders’ Day no less, this revered institution that gave rise to a high concentration of pharmaceutical leaders, researchers, and pharmacy professionals, will give an honorary science degree to an individual whose business has been the promotion and sales of the most unscientific of pseudoscience remedies among the spectrum of alternative medicine.
A more detailed analysis, my letter of protest, and response from the university president can be found in these two posts at Science-Based Medicine:
University of the Sciences in Philadelphia Justification for Scientific Honor of Homeopathic Leader, John A. Borneman, III
A very weak and disappointing response from the president of USP Student Government Association can be found in the comment thread of the second post.