NHS should stop funding Homeopathy: MPs

Written by on April 26, 2010 in in the news, Natural Treatments with 3 Comments

A recent submission to the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has said that using public money on the highly-diluted remedies of homeopathy could not be justified.

The cross-party group said there was no evidence beyond a placebo effect, when a patient gets better because of their belief that the treatment works.

I was surprised to read that about £4m a year is spent on homeopathy by the NHS, helping to fund four homeopathic hospitals in London, Bristol, Liverpool and Glasgow and also numerous prescriptions.

As homeopathic remedies are often active ingredients diluted to undetectable levels, it is thought that the placebo effect is responsible for any perceived benefits. The MPs say that the NHS should not be funding these treatments on this basis.

How did we get here ?

How is it possible that an organisation like the the NHS who needs every cent to run a health service for all of Britain could be funding unproven therapies ?

Well the articles answer this question. The use of homeopathics and the belief in their effectiveness predates the NHS legislation. When the act that ushered in when the NHS was penned in 1948, homeopathics were already established in the minds of many Brits.

The MPs contended that the licensing for homeopathic treatments is set too low and the fact that they are tolerated, and even funded by the NHS gives undeserved authority in the minds of consumers.

But People Want Them

Despite the lack of evidence, customers want homeopathic remedies. There seems to be some innate belief in the science of homeopathy. Perhaps this belief is based on the desire for alternative or complementary medicines to exist in some form. The desire for products with no side effects may also be fuelling the desire for this class of products.

Paul Bennett, Superintendent Pharmacist at Boots, suggested in a submission that even though he has no proof that homeopathy works they continue to stock homeopathic products across their stores because there is a strong desire for them from his customers.

Our Own Enemy ?

Is the customer always right ? How about when you are selling something that you know can’t work ? Who protects the customer from themselves ?

NHS money ‘wasted’ on homeopathy

By Nick Triggle, Health reporter, BBC News

The NHS should stop funding homeopathy, MPs say.

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee said using public money on the highly-diluted remedies could not be justified.

The cross-party group said there was no evidence beyond a placebo effect, when a patient gets better because of their belief that the treatment works.

and also from The Times

NHS should stop funding homeopathy, say MPs

From The Times, February 23, 2010

The NHS should stop funding all homeopathic medicine, the House of Commons science watchdog said yesterday. The cross-party group said there was no evidence that homeopathic remedies had anything other than a placebo effect.

The NHS spends about £4 million a year on homeopathy, paying for prescriptions and supporting the running of four homeopathic hospitals.

Phil Willis, the chairman of the Science and Technology Select Committee, said that government policies on homeopathy were not based on sound evidence: “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.”

Homeopathy uses highly diluted substances to relieve a range of ailments including bruising, colds and flu, and anxiety. But the MPs said that homeopathic remedies were sugar pills that only worked because patients believed that the treatment was going to make them feel better.

Is this the right move ?

Do you think that complementary or alternative treatments like homeopathy should be held to the same standards as regular prescription items ? Should homeopathy receive public funding ?

If you have tried a homeopathic remedy and it helped you, or indeed had no effect, please let us know in the comments below.

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About the Author: David Pascoe started the Rosacea Support Group in October 1998. .

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3 Reader Comments

  1. MissD says:

    Evidence-based medicine saves lives. Homeopathy causes death to those with fatal diseases that pursue it instead of getting proper medical care. There is yet to be even one person who has, say, diabetes, that injects homeopathic insulin and lives to tell the tale of how wonderful it works, or a cancer patient that does well on homeopathic chemotherapy, or a person with an auto-immune disease taking homeopathic meds to help with their condition.

    There isn’t even any research done with any homeopathic meds before they hit the market, unlike evidence-based medicine that goes through years of research to make sure that it works better than placebo and that it’s safe. There have been trials with homeopathy by scientists though to see if it works better than placebo, and big surprise – it doesn’t. Not even large amounts of homeopathic medicine has any effect, in fact I recall James Randi taking several homeopathic pills during a speech and they did nothing whatsoever.

    I’d rather my tax dollars pay for medicine and therapies that actually improve lives and save others thank you very much.

  2. NMax says:

    There is lots of research on homeopathy….the millions of folks that have used it for hundreds of years and experienced it’s amazing healing abilities…. Shame on fascists like you folks that wish to deprive the rest of us of this miracle healing science. Before the AMA came into existence in America homeopathy was successfully used, in fact in the flu epidemic of 1918 homeopathy protected Americans better than the pharmaceuticals… You know nothing about how it works…it works at a vibrational level….Nicklo Tesla…famous talented scientist – moreso than Edison spoke of a famous scientist before him that told him to look at vibrational energy that was where he would find the answers….but morons like you pretend to have all the answers…you know nothing about this science so move on and leave us alone and do your own thing…..we aren’t sitting here taking away that which you wish to deal in so mind your own business.

  3. GJ says:

    A piece in today’s Sunday Times. The recent work of the esteemed virologist Luc Montaigner appears to provide no little support for the fundamental principles of homeopathy.

    His peers, who have slapped him on the back these last thirty years, now think he is a loon.

    So it goes.

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