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Homeopathy officially a waste of NHS money

In Uncategorized on February 23, 2010 by Hanna

According to the Science and Technology Select Committee report out today. It found that internally the government was at odds with itself by funding homeopathy despite agreeing that the evidence base was weak (or non existent) and recommended that public money for research be used for other things, things that perhaps can be explained using current science. From the conclusions and recommendations:

11.  In our view, the systematic reviews and meta-analyses conclusively demonstrate that homeopathic products perform no better than placebos. (Paragraph 70)

12.  We recommend that the Government Chief Scientific Adviser and Professor Harper get together to see if they can reach an agreed position on the question of whether there is any good evidence for the efficacy of homeopathy and whether there is a genuine scientific controversy over the efficacy of homeopathy and publish this. (Paragraph 72)

13.  We regret that advocates of homeopathy, including in their submissions to our inquiry, choose to rely on, and promulgate, selective approaches to the treatment of the evidence base as this risks confusing or misleading the public, the media and policy-makers. (Paragraph 73)

14.  There has been enough testing of homeopathy and plenty of evidence showing that it is not efficacious. Competition for research funding is fierce and we cannot see how further research on the efficacy of homeopathy is justified in the face of competing priorities. (Paragraph 77)

15.  It is also unethical to enter patients into trials to answer questions that have been settled already. Given the different position on this important question between the Minister and his Chief Scientist, we recommend that the Government Chief Scientific Adviser, Professor John Beddington, investigate whether ministers are receiving effective advice and publish his own advice on this question. (Paragraph 78)

16.  We do not doubt that homeopathy makes some patients feel better. However, patient satisfaction can occur through a placebo effect alone and therefore does not prove the efficacy of homeopathic interventions. (Paragraph 82)

17.  We recommend that the Department of Health circulate NHS West Kent’s review of the commissioning of homeopathy to those PCTs with homeopathic hospitals within their areas. It should recommend that they also conduct reviews as a matter of urgency, to determine whether spending money on homeopathy is cost effective in the context of competing priorities. (Paragraph 86)

Should NICE evaluate homeopathy?

18.  We accept that NICE has a large queue of drugs to evaluate and that it may have greater priorities than evaluating homeopathy. However, we cannot understand why the lack of an evidence base for homeopathy might prevent NICE evaluating it but not prevent the NHS spending money on it. This position is not logical. (Paragraph 90)

Homeopathy on the NHS

19.  When doctors prescribe placebos, they risk damaging the trust that exists between them and their patients. (Paragraph 97)

20.  For patient choice to be real choice, patients must be adequately informed to understand the implications of treatments. For homeopathy this would certainly require an explanation that homeopathy is a placebo. When this is not done, patient choice is meaningless. When it is done, the effectiveness of the placebo—that is, homeopathy—may be diminished. We argue that the provision of homeopathy on the NHS, in effect, diminishes, not increases, informed patient choice. (Paragraph 101)

21.  We recommend that if personal health budgets proceed beyond the pilot stage the Government should not allow patients to buy non-evidence-based treatments such as homeopathy with public money. (Paragraph 104)

22.  When the NHS funds homeopathy, it endorses it. Since the NHS Constitution explicitly gives people the right to expect that decisions on the funding of drugs and treatments are made “following a proper consideration of the evidence”, patients may reasonably form the view that homeopathy is an evidence-based treatment. (Paragraph 109)

23.  The Government should stop allowing the funding of homeopathy on the NHS. (Paragraph 110)

24.  We conclude that placebos should not be routinely prescribed on the NHS. The funding of homeopathic hospitals—hospitals that specialise in the administration of placebos—should not continue, and NHS doctors should not refer patients to homeopaths. (Paragraph 111)

And it also looked at licensing and it’s final conclusion:

33.  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)

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One Response to “Homeopathy officially a waste of NHS money”

  1. If only this could be the end of it.

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