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Letters: Homeopaths Get Dose Of Real Medicine

Published by on Thursday, 10 December 2009No Comment

Your recent item about the absurdity that homeopathic preparations can cure illnesses was timely. The Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee has been looking at the evidence behind the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s decision to allow homeopathy sugar pill labels to make medical claims without evidence of efficacy, and the funding of homeopathy on the NHS.

In his evidence to the enquiry, Paul Bennet, professional standards director for Boots, told the committee that there was no medical evidence that homeopathic pills and potions work. Mr Bennet did say that there is certainly a consumer demand for these products but there is no evidence to suggest they are efficacious.

For Boots the issue is one of consumer choice seeing that a large number of their customers believe homeopathic products work.
Dr James Thallon, medical director at the NHS West Kent primary care trust told the committee of MPs ‘If you prescribe a drug to patients that you know has no efficacy, on a basis which is essentially dishonest with a patient, I personally feel that is unethical”. Dr Thallon went on to say that “We have taken the view about where the balance of the scientific community’s opinion is on homeopathy and, to me and my colleagues, it’s pretty clear.”
Thallon cut funding to Tunbridge Wells homeopathic hospital in 2007 after deciding that more proven medications have priority. The NHS spent £12m on homeopathic remedies between 2005 and 2008, money many critics said the health service could not afford.

It seems unbelievable that so many people – including some medical practitioners – will put their trust in scientifically unproven (dare I say, impossible?) products. Surely, as your article implied, evidence on the basis of rigorous, peer-reviewed scientific research is the best criterion for evaluating the effectiveness of any medicinal preparations and treatments.

Dr Chris Hewitson, Chesham Street

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