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European Coalition on Homeopathic & Anthroposophic Medicinal Products

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Following the debate: homeopathy and anthroposophic medicine

22 Jun 2018

February

  • On 15 February, 65 members of the Bulgarian Academy of Science published a call to the medical universities to remove homeopathy from the curriculum. The story was covered in the media, including in several TV debates; in general the view expressed was that the academics that signed the call against homeopathy were misinformed about the most recent research. 
  • On 19 February, the Swedish homeopathic associations sent an open letter to the Swedish Royal Academy of Science, accusing it of flouting science’s own rules for impartiality and objectivity in organising an event on homeopathy at the parliament without inviting anyone with expertise to speak in favour of homeopathy. Swedish homeopathic associations have taken further initiatives to defend homeopathy with the publication of a film in Swedish, ‘The battle for the paradigm of health’, an extract of which can be found translated into German and English.
  • Kurzgesagt, a German YouTube channel, launched a video, ‘Homeopathy Explained – Gentle Healing or Reckless Fraud’, which has now reached about 3 million views. In his blog, Dr Paul Theriault, naturopathic doctor, highlights as series of inaccuracies and false assumptions, saying, ‘This video piles falsehood upon falsehood, in an, admittedly, quite visually lovely piece, but one of no serious intellectual value, or any real accuracy.’

March

  • A new paper in BMJ Open, supported by a BMJ Open blog, shows that surgeries employing general practitioners with additional training in complementary medicine prescribe fewer antibiotics; the research received widespread media coverage in national, local and specialist media in the UK (see press release).
  • A broadcast on Italian TV Rai in March presented a series of false information aimed at destroying homeopathy, bringing together services from across Europe to argue in favour of cancelling homeopathy to save public money and have better levels of health care. In counterbalance, FIAMO, the biggest association of homeopaths in Italy, launched the campaign “Italian Cities for Homeopathy” with a national tour of the documentary “Just One Drop” to 15 Italian cities, achieving positive coverage.
  • There was significant coverage in UK national (The Times, BBC, The Independent, The Telegraph) and specialist media (here and here) of the story that Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine (formerly Royal London Homeopathic Hospital) will no longer be permitted to provide National Health Service funded homeopathic or herbal medicines; patients prescribed those medicines will have to buy them privately from the hospital pharmacy or from a specialist pharmacy.
  • In Belgium, on the other hand, as reported on TV (from 03hr42) and in the papers (here and here), 7 out of 10 Belgians asked for better reimbursement of CAM treatments within their health care system.

April

  • On 12 April, the first item in the daily health news briefing  from Politico for EU civil servants and politicians marked Homeopathy Awareness Week with a positive message from Dr Jaume Costa, General Secretary of European Committee for Homeopathy.
  • A study in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine published in UK on 18 April argued that doctors prescribing homeopathy rate lower in terms of best prescribing quality scores; widespread coverage (and here, here and here) associated homeopathic prescribing with ‘bad doctors’. The Faculty of Homeopathy argues that the study confuses rather than clarifies the prescribing performance of GP practices where homeopathy is used to treat patients. It says ‘The media coverage of this study has been based on a short, misleading press release issued before the paper was published, so that it was not possible to evaluate its quality. …Anyone reading the actual paper will note that the authors conclude it is unlikely that prescribing homeopathy causes poorer performance.’
  • The campaign for homeopathy continued to be waged in the UK throughout April. On 25 April, a further question by David Tredinnick MP, this time during Prime Minister’s Question Time in House of Parliament, elicited an answer from Prime Minister Theresa May that ‘it is the responsibility of the local NHS to make decisions on the commissioning and funding of healthcare treatments and to take account of issues with safety, clinical and cost-effectiveness and the availability of suitably qualified and regulated practitioners’. The response was reported in the national and local media.
  • A new campaign was launched in April in Germany by DHU, enlisting patient support: ‘Homeopathy. Naturally. My choice! Positive stories in the German media include an interview in the NDR Talkshow (from minute 8) with Dr. Müller-Wohlfahrt giving positive support for homeopathy. On 7 May, a debate on homeopathy in the doctors‘ publication, ÄrzteZeitung, gave the pros and cons of homeopathy, with Prof. Dr. Med. Frank Ulrich Montgomery, President of the Bundesärztekammer (BÄK), the German medical association, speaking out in favour of homeopathy, “It is a fact that homeopathy helps many people.... I see homeopathy as a complementary medicine. It makes sense in conjunction with good medical education.”
  • In Germany too, the journal Der Spiegel published an article on a Cochrane study, ‘Homeopathic medicinal products for preventing and treating acute respiratory tract infections in children’,  which concludes that the result of the research does not support the use of homeopathic preparations for upper respiratory infections in children; in its response, Carstens Stiftung explains the limitations of the study, while Dr Fred Ludwig shares his experience of selecting the right remedy in these situations.
  • On 20 April, anthroposophic medicine was withdrawn from the blacklist of therapies held by the Mission interministerielle de vigilance et de lute contre les derives sectaires, originally set up to fight against cults.

May

  • The French press covered (here and here) an announcement by Health Minister Agnes Buzyn that there will be a discussion about the reimbursement of medicinal products which have not proven their effectiveness, highlighting her inclusion in this of homeopathy.  

June

  • The Your Health, Your Choice campaign in Australia has now reached over 85,000 signatures, stimulating a series of questions on natural therapies from the Senate Estimates Committee to the Federal Health Department; the campaign already claims a number of other successes including (May) a landmark win for consumers with the Federal Government not acting on recommendations from the King Review to restrict and/or ban natural medicine products in pharmacies; successful private meetings with the Senior Federal Government officials; and the passing by the Federal Government of a reform package that protects traditional medicine. Sign the petition to help keep pressure up for the Ombudsman challenge to the discredited Australian report on homeopathy.
  • In May, a judicial review into the NHS England consultation on the prescription of homeopathic medicines on the National Health Service took place, challenging the withdrawal of funding for homeopathic medicines on the NHS. The review was launched by the British Homeopathic Association (patients’ association) as part of its campaign to save homeopathy on the NHS. Despite the significance of this judicial review, challenging procedures and practice of NHS England, media coverage at the time was limited (and here). News arrived on 5 June that the BHA’s brave legal bid to overturn the NHS decision on homeopathy has failed. Following the announcement, further reports appeared in the UK media (here and here and here).
  • In an interview in La Libération in France, homeopathic doctor Jean-François Masson argues strongly in favour of the real life benefits of homeopathy.