Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy - Science and Technology Committee Contents

4  Conclusions

153. This second Evidence Check has been an interesting exercise, and quite different to Evidence Check 1: Early Literacy Interventions. By conducting this inquiry we have attracted a great deal more public interest and controversy and have found that views on homeopathy are more polarised.

154. We welcome the Government's acknowledgement that there is no credible evidence of efficacy for homeopathy, which is an evidence-based view. However, the Government's view has not translated into evidence-based policies.

155. The NHS funds homeopathy and has done so since 1948. We were disappointed that, in light of its view on evidence for homeopathy, the Government has no appetite to review its policies in favour of an evidence-based approach. The Government was reluctant to address the issues of informed patient choice or the appropriateness and ethics of prescribing placebos to patients.

156. The MHRA licenses homeopathic products under three different licensing schemes. These arrangements in part arose through a historical legacy inherited by the MHRA. We were concerned, however, that in introducing the National Rules Scheme in 2006, the MHRA chose not to take a rigorous, evidence-based approach to licensing of homeopathic products. The MHRA's justification for introducing a scheme permitting products to make medical indications—that the product labelling was stringently tested to ensure patients would understand the purpose of the product—was not evidence-based.

157. By providing homeopathy on the NHS and allowing MHRA licensing of products which subsequently appear on pharmacy shelves, the Government runs the risk of endorsing homeopathy as an efficacious system of medicine. To maintain patient trust, choice and safety, the Government should not endorse the use of placebo treatments, including homeopathy. Homeopathy should not be funded on the NHS and the MHRA should stop licensing homeopathic products.

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