Sunday, 29 March 2015

BMJ Re: Homeopathy is not an effective treatment for any health condition, report concludes

29 March 2015
Andrew Sikorski
NHS GP partner
Belmont Surgery, Wadhurst


Re: Homeopathy is not an effective treatment for any health condition, report concludes

Rapid response to BMJ 2015;350:h1478 'Homeopathy is not an effective treatment for any health condition, report concludes'.
Fiona Godlee has suggested I pen a rapid response to the article published in the BMJ of 21 March 2015 in response to an overview by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council 1. Here goes:
The authoritative tone of this article's title and content would seem to provide a clear, definitive and reasoned answer to draw a line under a hotly debated issue.
I welcome scientific research which unequivocally proves there is no beneficial effect from Homeopathic Medicine and would be amongst the first to stop using it if this were to be the case, ditto acupuncture.
Looking at the raw data and review design this article actually does nothing less than entrench an unscientific, prejudiced, biased and bigoted short-sighted opinion of Homeopathic treatments. Concerns with the review identified thus far can be found at 2, 3.
Not only is significant eligible research ignored, an arbitrary unsubstantiated study size chosen by the authors to cherry pick the least effective published research, but also the recommendation in the review conclusion commending further quality research has been air brushed out of existence. Were this a study of conventional medical interventions Peter Gotzsche, Ben Goldacre and Fiona Godlee amongst many others would rightly be up in arms and having kittens at such a blatant demonstration of standard spin practices they have previously roundly decried for providing exactly the conclusions expected by scientific research's commissioners.
Meanwhile questioning the conventional prescribing of statins at night, for example, is met with abhorrence despite the dismal evidence for this practice, based on tiny studies 4.
But this is Homeopathic Medicine: 'treat like with like' in prescribing the amphetamine Ritalin for hyperactive children. Most readers of the BMJ would probably be more familiar with Ritalin, a most excellent example of Homeopathic prescribing.
There has been an inappropriate and vehement level of negative reporting on Homeopathy for some time. Homeopathy is a safe and extremely cost effective form of medicine which works, is used by millions of patients worldwide, is of clinical value at the consulting coal face often after standard treatment in secondary care has failed and has been routinely used safely to the benefit of suffering patients, alongside usual practice, throughout Europe for over two Centuries. There is valid RCT research in the medical and veterinary fields 5,6.
Whilst the history of medicine is littered with fashions which were contemporary scientific cutting edge "must do's" Homeopathic Medicine has stood the (some would say ultimate) test of time. Some placebo? Why the antagonism to Homeopathy being recognised as the popular, safe, effective, individualised medicine it is and to being more widely used alongside usual medical practice?
The old chestnuts: 'It doesn't work'; 'it can't work'; 'there's nothing to it, and that's it' demonstrate unscientific, closed, dogmatic, thinking of the highest order and are no longer tenable.
One further double blind RCT assessing Homeopathic Medicine with Fluoxetine was published 2 weeks ago. A study size of 133 would be readily dismissed in Australia, but what do you think of significant P values? 7.
You are invited to remain open-minded, inquisitive, scientific , sceptical and reminded medicine is a healing craft incorporating science with compassion for the benefit of patients, whilst sadly being bundled together with iatrogenicity.
The experience of privatising health provision in New Zealand proved medicine is recalcitrant to being treated as a business, and that's a story you can read in this weekend's BMJ 8.
Andrew Sikorski
8. BMJ 2015;350:h1502
Competing interests: Sceptical physician incorporating complementary techniques with usual practice