With thanks to Ian Quinn at Pulse Today 26.7.10
In its response to a report from the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee, which issued a damning verdict on the practice and called for GPs to be barred from referring patients under the NHS, the Department of Heath said it would not be stepping in – despite MPs’ concerns over the lack of evidence and regulation of homeopathic treatments.
MPs had called not only for doctors to be barred from referring patients to homeopathic hospitals or homeopaths, but for the MHRA to intervene and to apply the same standards of regulation as for medicines, which they said would remove any medical claim supporters of homeopathy had.
But in its response today the DH said: ‘It is not appropriate for the Department of Health to remove the right of PCTs to make these decisions on a case-by-case basis.’
‘Capital investment decisions in the NHS are planned and decided at local level. The commissioning plans of local PCTs set out the type of services that need to be provided and therefore drive decisions about the nature of new facilities needed, or the need to maintain, update or replace existing facilities.’
The committee had also called for an investigation into the cost of homeopathy to the NHS and for new research into the evidence-base for homeopathy, but this too was rejected.
MPs had wanted regulators to ‘remove any medical claim and any implied endorsement of efficacy by the MHRA’ by ensuring the same evidence of efficacy used to assess conventional medicines was used, but the Government said this would potentially deal a fatal blow to the homeopathy market and limit consumer choice.
‘Homeopathy has a long tradition in Europe and is a recognised and widely used system of medicine across the EU,’ it said.
‘The Government takes the view that consumers who choose to use homeopathic medicines should be fully informed about their purpose and assured that standards of quality and safety are maintained. If homeopathic medicines were not subject to any kind of regulatory control consumers would not have access to such information or assurances.’
‘Conversely, if regulation was applied to homeopathic medicines as understood in the context of conventional pharmaceutical medicines, these products would have to be withdrawn from the market as medicines. This would constrain consumer choice and, more importantly, risk the introduction of unregulated, poor quality and potentially unsafe products on the market to satisfy consumer demand.’
Brian Kaplan – London | 26 Jul 10
This is truly marvellous news – simply the most heartening thing I’ve read in PULSE for years.
The government’s decision is a victory for liberty and democracy in this country and a slap in the face for those who would seek to thwart the rights of GPs to send patients to fully qualified doctors on the NHS who use homeopathic medicine.
Earl Baldwin of Bewdley reviews the Science and Technology Committee report ‘Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy’
26th July 2010
Government Response to the Science and Technology Committee report ‘Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy’
Reponses from the Media:
Andrew Lansley MP effectively gave the green light for spending on homeopathy to go up, because of his plans for patients to be able to ‘shop around’ until they find a GP willing to prescribe complementary therapies. This means more patients will have access to such treatments. There will be no restrictions on the advertising of homeopathic treatments… ‘We believe in patients being able to make informed choices about their treatments… ‘