Homeopathy

153. This second Evidence Check has been an interesting exercise, and quite different to Evidence Check 1: Early Literacy Interventions. By conducting this inquiry we have attracted a great deal more public interest and controversy and have found that views on homeopathy are more polarised.

154. We welcome the Government’s acknowledgement that there is no credible evidence of efficacy for homeopathy, which is an evidence-based view. However, the Government’s view has not translated into evidence-based policies.

155. The NHS funds homeopathy and has done so since 1948. We were disappointed that, in light of its view on evidence for homeopathy, the Government has no appetite to review its policies in favour of an evidence-based approach. The Government was reluctant to address the issues of informed patient choice or the appropriateness and ethics of prescribing placebos to patients.

156. The MHRA licenses homeopathic products under three different licensing schemes. These arrangements in part arose through a historical legacy inherited by the MHRA. We were concerned, however, that in introducing the National Rules Scheme in 2006, the MHRA chose not to take a rigorous, evidence-based approach to licensing of homeopathic products. The MHRA’s justification for introducing a scheme permitting products to make medical indications—that the product labelling was stringently tested to ensure patients would understand the purpose of the product—was not evidence-based.

157. By providing homeopathy on the NHS and allowing MHRA licensing of products which subsequently appear on pharmacy shelves, the Government runs the risk of endorsing homeopathy as an efficacious system of medicine. To maintain patient trust, choice and safety, the Government should not endorse the use of placebo treatments, including homeopathy. Homeopathy should not be funded on the NHS and the MHRA should stop licensing homeopathic products. [1]

It seems to me that this unnecessary controversy could be easily resolved in a manner satisfactory to all parties. Rather than ceasing all NHS funding for homeopathy, let us simply dilute it. According to the most sound homeopathic doctrines, £1 should be many orders of magnitude more effective than the £4 million currently spent annually. [2]


[1] House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy, Section 4: Conclusions, emphasis in original (available online)

[2] The Daily Mash, Parliament Emitting Angry Purple Aura, Say Homeopaths (available online)

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Published in: on March 3, 2010 at 9:50 pm  Comments (6)  

6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Wow. Within seconds of posting this, I received a comment claiming that homeopathy is not a placebo treatment and referring to a recent article in the International Journal of Oncology. At first, despite the suspicious speed at which the comment appeared, I wasn’t certain that it was spam, so I checked up on the article. Unsurprisingly, it turned out to be bollocks.

    So it seems that homeopaths have computer programs roving the internet, automatically spamming blogs with references to bogus research. What a damning confession of guilt.

  2. I am not a spammer or a homeopath. I am a middle aged woman with 4 years of grad work in statistics at Stanford, 3 children and 5 grandkids, 2 books and lots more to prove I’m a human.

    If you REALLY checked the article and think it is bad, why not say what you don’t like about it? Researchers used homeopathic remedies and found they killed cancer cells. What would you like to complain about? also posted NIH study. This is called basic science.

    original post:

    Homeopathic remedy kills cancer cells as reported in mainstream journal:

    A 2010 study published in the International Journal of Oncology revealed homeopathic remedies have a beneficial effect on breast cancer cells (2010 Feb;36(2):395-403)

    and:
    Homeopathic remedies kills cancer cells:
    http: //www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20043074

    M. Frenkel, M.D., lead researcher and associate professor at the University of Texas and the medical director of the Integrative Medicine Program at the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, said: “We felt homeopathy needed to be tested in the same way we test new chemotherapeutic drugs. We were quite impressed to find homeopathic remedies have similar effects to chemotherapy on breast cancer cells but without affecting normal cells, a very exciting finding. As far as we know, this is the first study that evaluated the effect of homeopathic remedies on breast cancer cells.”

  3. You have four years of grad work in statistics? Really? Then did you not find it just a teeny bit suspicious that not once in that paper do they demonstrate the statistical significance of their results? In fact, as someone with experience in statistics, were you not surprised by the general lack of quantitative results throughout the entire paper? The paper is completely devoid of statistical analysis.

    In fact, it is not just devoid of statistical analysis, it is devoid of data. The authors of the paper do not provide any evidence for their claims! No data, no analysis of data, nothing!

  4. Well, it’s more than two years later and still no reply. I guess she didn’t find it suspicious…

  5. Here I am back having found this page again, years later. I think the argumentative person here is confusing double blind studies with basic research and observational studies. Many people don’t understand that statistical significance is not appropriate in every piece of research. My first professor at Stanford was Lincoln Moses who introduced biostatistics to the medical school. He was an amazing professor and his biggest lesson was: use the right test. In this case, research did not require statistical testing of the sort you are referencing. I was simply telling you I was not a bot, but a person. I am also friendly. Try it.

  6. Wow, this must be the longest running exchange I’ve had on a blog. Thank you!

    Fair enough, I believe you are not a bot. I received so many spam comments, most of which consisted of nothing but a link to a bogus paper, literally within seconds of posting that article, that I’m afraid I assumed you were just part of an automated spam campaign. It appears you are not: I’m sorry.

    That said, the research is still implausible. You can’t make claims about medical efficacy – of any treatment, homeopathic or otherwise – without actual evidence. It’s not that the researchers used the wrong test: they didn’t use any test.

    That paper does not contain any data that other scientists could analyze, nor does it contain any statistical analysis by the authors. I think making medical claims without evidence is quite immoral, whoever does it.


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