Homeopathy : Government response

August 5, 2010

witchround

GOVERNMENT RESPONSE TO THE SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE REPORT “EVIDENCE CHECK 2 : HOMEOPATHY

“Overall conclusion:

RECOMMENDATION

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. (Paragraph 157)

GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE
47.
We note the Committee’s view that allowing for the provision of homeopathy may risk seeming to endorse it, and we will keep the position under review. However, we do not believe that this risk amounts to a risk to patient trust, choice or safety, nor do we believe that the risk is significant enough for the Department to take the unusual step of removing PCTs’ flexibility to make their own decisions. We believe that providing appropriate information for commissioners, clinicians and the public, and ensuring a strong ethical code for clinicians, remain the most effective ways to ensure quality outcomes, patient satisfaction and the appropriate use of NHS funding.
48.
The regulation of homeopathic products enables the MHRA to protect the public from unsafe products and unwarranted claims to treat serious illness. The requirement for regulation of homeopathic products is laid down in a European Directive and is a treaty obligation of the UK. “

SEE WITCH DOCTOR: THE RESURRECTION OF THE WOO-WOO WIBBLERS

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House of Commons – Homeopathy

August 4, 2010

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HOUSE OF COMMONS – SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE -EVIDENCE CHECK 2 – HOMEOPATHY 2009-2010

“143. Boots is the leading pharmacy chain in the UK and is a well recognised retailer andbrand. The pharmacy section of Boots sells a range of complementary and alternative medicines, including homeopathic products. We asked Paul Bennett, Professional Standards Director at Boots, why they sold homeopathic products. Mr Bennett replied:

“It is about consumer choice for us. A large number of our consumers actually do believe they are efficacious, but they are licensed medicinal products and, therefore, we believe it is right to make them available.167”

144. Beyond the issue of consumer choice, Professor Lawrence, Chief Scientific Adviser for the RPSGB, considered there were reasons why pharmacies should continue to sell homeopathic products:

“We would contest it is better for the patient for pharmacists to be present because they are able, if appropriate, to offer advice to that patient, and there are two things that are important. It is important that patients should realise there is not any evidence for the particular preparations and, also, it gives the pharmacist an opportunity to ensure that the patient is not actually taking something unnecessary.”168

We found this response unsatisfactory. As the RPSGB takes the view that “there is no scientific or clinical evidence to support homeopathy”169 the only advice pharmacists could give is that the products are placebos. Pharmacists should ensure that patients with symptoms that may require further medical investigation and treatment are not led to believe that a homeopathic remedy is effective beyond the placebo effect. The RPSGB itself has described pharmacists as “scientists in the high street”170 and therefore has a particular responsibility to ensure that pharmacists provide scientifically accurate advice to patients.

145. The RPSGB had concerns about the possibly legitimisation of homeopathy caused by the sale of products through pharmacies….”

SEE WITCH DOCTOR: THE RESURRECTION OF THE WOO-WOO WIBBLERS

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