Homeopathy is a waste of NHS money says House of Commons Committee on Science and Technology

manicstreetpreacher salutes democracy in action/ power to the people/ sceptics’ voices being heard etc.

Previously on this blog, I have denounced homeopathy as a bogus pseudo-science, reported on The Merseyside Skeptics Society’s campaign to have it removed from the shelves of Boots following the company’s admission that it had no appreciable effect beyond placebo, and previewed The Big Swallow that demonstrated that it was impossible to “overdose” on homeopathic remedies.

The Big Swallow went ahead on 30 January 2010 at various cities across the country and attracted notices in the national press.  Now, The Daily Telegraph reports, along with BBC News that the House of Commons Select Committee on Science and Technology has recommended that the NHS should cease using public money to provide homeopathic remedies.

From the Telegraph:

The Commons Science and Technology Committee said the diluted products were no more effective than placebo – the same as taking a sugar or dummy pill.

Furthermore, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) should not allow labels on homeopathic medicines to carry medical claims, it said.

Estimates on how much the NHS spends on homeopathy vary, with the Society of Homeopaths putting the figure at £4 million a year.

Health Minister Mike O’Brien told the committee the spend on homeopathic medicines is £152,000 a year.

The committee said the idea behind homeopathy – of diluting substances to the extent that a solution retains an “imprint” of what was originally dissolved – was implausible.

“We consider the notion that ultra-dilutions can maintain an imprint of substances previously dissolved in them to be scientifically implausible.”…

The report said: “In our view, the systematic reviews and meta-analyses conclusively demonstrate that homeopathic products perform no better than placebos.”

It added: “There has been enough testing of homeopathy and plenty of evidence showing it is not efficacious.”

Liberal Democrat MP Phil Willis, who is chairman of the cross-party committee, said prescribing homeopathy as placebos on the NHS amounted to encouraging doctors to participate in “active deception” of their patients.

He said serious illnesses could be missed while people were on homeopathy.

The potions were “basically sugar pills or Smarties” and patients could be mislead into thinking they were getting better on them, he added.

He continued: “If homeopathy works then the whole of chemistry and physics would have to be overturned.”…

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “The Department of Health and Government welcome the publication of the report and will give it, and any recommendations made, full consideration over the coming weeks.

“In the meantime, we would reiterate that we appreciate the strength of feeling both for and against the provision of homeopathy on the National Health Service.

“Our view is that the local NHS and clinicians, rather than Whitehall, are best placed to make decisions on what treatment is appropriate for their patients – this includes complementary or alternative treatments such as homeopathy.”

Full report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee (Download PDF)

In addition, Richard Dawkins has posted this essay on his website calling for readers to write to their MPs in support of the Committee’s recommendations and has devised a Double-Blind placebo-Controlled Randomised Trial (DBCRT) for testing the effectiveness of homeopathy on real patients.

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4 Responses to “Homeopathy is a waste of NHS money says House of Commons Committee on Science and Technology”

  1. Fergus Gallagher Says:

    You said “bogus”.

    • manicstreetpreacher Says:

      Is that a Beavis and Butthead reference, Fergus?

    • PaulJ Says:

      Not only did MSP say “bogus” — he put it in the tag list, so the libel-bot will be able to find it even easier.

      That’s bravado for you.

      • manicstreetpreacher Says:

        Libel bot? You mean the Society of British Homoequacks has a software programme that constantly scans the ‘net looking for critical blog posts and getting the blog provider to shut them down?

        Well, that don’t scare me none. This piece links to a cached version of Simon Singh’s piece lambasting chiropractic that landed him in the libel courts, so there.

        Bwaaah haa haa haa haa haa haa!!!!

        manic

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