The current ruling on homeopathy defies logical reasoning, bearing in mind that just 60 studies were taken into account of 1300 submitted
Systematic reviews typically find a lack of definite positive evidence of efficacy, and recommend further research. 49% of systematic research reviews on conventional medicine reach similar “inclusive” conclusions, 96% recommend further research. (El Dib, R.P., Atallah, A.N. & Andriolo, R.B : Mapping the Cochrane evidence for decision making in health care. J.Eval.Clin.Pract. 13, 689-692, 2007).
It is however, in the nature of such systematic reviews and meta-analyses, that they can only provide a snapshot of reality rather than the full picture. Also, these reviews typically summarize a very wide variety of treatments and treatment approaches under the umbrella term Homeopathy. Some of these treatment approaches are very effective, whilst some may be less effective. Deriving one common conclusion thus leads to misconceptions.
Furthermore, the NHMRC report is an interpretation of studies – not accurately reflecting the findings of the original research studies.
There is also much debate as to whether systematic reviews are valid in terms of accuracy (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17638714)
A British Medical Journal study indicated that only 11% of all common conventional therapeutic actions have an unequivocally positive evidence base from epidemiological studies. (Clinical Evidence-BMJ http://clinicalevidence.bmj.com/x/set/static/cms/efficacy-categorisations.html)
Given the fact that research in conventional medicine is much better funded than research on homeopathy, the NHMRC report is interesting. In particular, a study looking directly at the quality of trials showed that studies on homeopathy are of higher quality than comparable trials from conventional medicine. (Shang.A. et al: Are the clinical studies on homeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy and allopathy. Lancet 366, 726-732, 2005).
One section of medicine is thrilled at the current announcement, and will now be demanding all sorts of retribution against pharmacists who use these safe and effective remedies.
Demands will be forthcoming through the usual channels for the Pharmacy Board, PSA, and anybody else who can be patronisingly influenced, to support the call for homeopathy to be eradicated completely.
This will not happen, nor should any health practitioner with a balanced perspective allow it to happen.
The bullying and harassing is unbecoming from any of us. Let your patients guide you – one way or the other.