Stop funding sugar pills on the NHS

The rather wonderful House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has published its evidence check on NHS policy towards homeopathy.

It doesn’t make pretty reading, if you’re a homeopath. The committee has done a sterling job and its conclusions are crystal clear. There is no controversy about the evidence; big, well-conducted randomised controlled studies have been done and reliable researchers have carried out high quality systematic reviews. The answers are all in: homeopathy doesn’t work.

The homeopaths’ predictable response is that the committee ignored their evidence, which just shows that the homeopaths cannot have read the report. The committee gave great weight to all the research into homeopathy.

This is what the committee has to say about the homeopaths approach to the evidence: ‘We regret that advocates of homeopathy, including in their submissions to our inquiry, choose to rely on, and promulgate, selective approaches to the treatment of the evidence base, as this risks confusing or misleading the public, the media and policy-makers.’

Unsurprisingly, the committee’s conclusions are clear. The NHS should not fund homeopathy in any way. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency should not license homeopathic products, without first requiring the same proof of efficacy as for any other product. Pharmacists should not tell people that these products work.

And no, this isn’t about patient choice. I’m more than happy for people to spend their own money on the placebo of their choice. But I don’t want them spending mine.

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