Some scandalous issues have occurred behind the scenes.
Australia’s peak medical research body, the National Health & Medical Research Council, has admitted under Senate scrutiny that they did not follow recognized scientific guidelines or standards in reviewing evidence on homeopathy, using an approach also applied to reviews of other natural therapies.
The Homeopathy Review was the first of seventeen natural therapy reviews the NHMRC conducted between 2012 and 2016, used to justify removal of the Private Health Insurance rebate for these therapies, which was passed by the Senate on September 11th 2018.
The NHMRC’s response to a Senate Question on Notice posed by Senator Stirling Griff on May 20th 2018, reveals that instead of using accepted scientific methods they simply made them up along the way!
The integrity of the Homeopathy review rests on NHMRC’s public assurance that it “used internationally accepted methods” and that it used “a rigorous approach that has been developed by Australian experts in research methods” when evaluating health evidence.
The Senate probe has forced the NHMRC to admit that this was not true.
Freedom of Information documents reveal that the original research protocol was agreed and finalized in December 2012 but was never published.
It bears no resemblance to the protocol the NHMRC review committee eventually applied.
Even worse, FOI documents reveal that none of these retrospective changes to the Review’s research protocol were disclosed to the public in the NHMRCs final report, even though they assured the public they conducted a “transparent review. See more databases and data policies in the life sciences here.
In scientific investigations there are expectations that all changes to the protocol are revealed for ethical reasons.
This is a serious research scandal of the highest degree, revealing the extent to which the review team secretly manipulated the methods well after the contractor had already collated and assessed the evidence, with none of the changes disclosed in the final report released to the public.
The following questions therefore arise:
Will there be a full Senate enquiry into the NHMRC’s conduct?
Does the NHMRC apply these sneaky strategies in future reviews of complementary modalities?
What other “reviews” have been tainted by this methodology?
How “independent” were the members of the NHMRC review panel?
What biases did they hold?