As the head pharmacist and manager of Hedrick's Pharmacy, a family-owned, independent pharmacy in Pennsylvania, Samantha Hedrick had to decide whether to continue to stock a wildly popular supplement, Memoral, a blend of vitamins, minerals, and herbs that "may support memory and cognitive function." Despite its hefty price tag ($75 a month), the supplement was a hit with the customers, particularly older adults who were concerned about developing Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia. Hedrick's research had revealed, however, that while Memorol was probably safe, it was no better than a placebo in preventing memory problems in older adults.
Although Hedrick was still getting adjusted to running the pharmacy, she knew that Memorol was very profitable for her family's business, but was it fair to sell her customers an expensive supplement that was functionally no different than a sugar pill, even if customers felt it helped them? Was having Memorol on the shelves an implicit seal of approval from the small pharmacy? How should she respond to customers who asked her whether they should start taking it?