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 indicationsthat
the product labelling was stringently tested to ensure patients
would understand the purpose of the productwas 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.