Homeopathy Under Fire in UK

February 22, 2010

2 Min Read
Homeopathy Under Fire in UK

LONDONAn influential government committee issued a report calling homeopathic medicine ineffective and suggesting the National Health Service (NHS) stop funding consumers purchases of homeopathic remedies. Phil Willis MP, chairman of the Science and Technology Committee, said: This was a challenging inquiry which provoked strong reactions. We were seeking to determine whether the Governments policies on homeopathy are evidence based on current evidence. They are not. It sets an unfortunate precedent for the Department of Health to consider that the existence of a community which believes that homeopathy works is evidence enough to continue spending public money on it. This also sends out a confused message, and has potentially harmful consequences. We await the Government's response to our report with interest.

The committee issued its report to Parliament Feb. 22, after reviewing whether the governments policies on homeopathy were based on sound evidence. Both the committee and NHS concurred evidence does not show homeopathy is effective, and that further scientific trials could not be justified because of a lack of evidence on its efficacy. The committee determined any effect of homeopathic remedies is simply due to a placebo effect.

In addition, the committee reviewed the licensing regime for homeopathic products by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). It concluded MHRA should not allow homeopathic products to carry medical claims on their labels, and should not be licensed by MHRA, as they are simply sugar pills containing no active ingredients. It added, The licensing regimes and deficient labeling lend a spurious medical legitimacy to homeopathic products.

The Society of Homeopaths, a UK-based professional group, provided written testimony to the committee and issued a statement after the report was issued, questioning the process itself and the conclusions. In particular, it while the committees charge was to determine whether evidence supported the governments policy toward homeopathy, it instead ended up questioning the efficacy of homeopathy as a practice. In a statement, Paula Ross, chief executive of the Society, said: The cost of this evidence check must surely outweigh the paltry £152,000 [US$235,000] Minister of State Mike OBrien reported is spent on homeopathic medicines each year by the NHS. The public clearly wants homeopathy and instead of funding this evidence check, we would have preferred to see the government put money into much needed research into how actually homeopathy works. The evidence shows that homeopathy is effective beyond placebo. Scientists have yet to understand how.

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