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GPs buried under trusts' workload dump

Alan Henness

  • GP concern over Prince Charles herbal medicines lobbying

    Alan Henness's comment 15 May 2015 9:07pm

    I think that Prince Charles was as ineffective as homeopathy.

    The EU Directive concerned is the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive 2004/24/EC of 31 March 2004, which was published in the OJ (Official Journal of the EU) on 30 April 2004. According to Article 3 of the Directive, the latter is the date it came into force.

    Article 2 mandated that the transition period (where non-registered herbal products could still be placed on the market) could end as late as 30 April 2011 (seven years after it came into force) - the actual date set in the UK was 31 March 2011.

    We don't know whether the Government had originally intended to end the transition period on an earlier date and whether Tony Blair was able to push it out to the latest possible date, but it would seem that Prince Charles had little, if any, effect.

    Perhaps what is more surprising is that Prince Charles doesn't appear to have lobbied for homeopathy.

    I suspect many homeopathy manufacturers, homeopaths, trade bodies and their supporters (including David Tredinnick MP) will be surprised and disappointed by this revelation.

    Alan Henness
    The Nightingale Collaboration
    Challenging misleading healthcare claims

  • Are doctors pushing patients into the arms of homeopaths?

    Alan Henness's comment 29 Apr 2015 3:34pm

    Anonymous 29 April 2015 12:55pm said:

    "we could equally discuss why the Swiss, Indian and other countries, and the EU, endorse homeopathy."

    Why do you believe the Swiss endorse homeopathy?

  • Dilemma: Renting premises to a complementary therapist

    Alan Henness's comment 28 Dec 2013 12:20pm

    I would be interested to know which therapies Dr Chand considers to be the 'high quality' ones and what criteria he would use to ensure 'proper training and regulation of the practitioners'.

  • Homeopathic health claims broke advertising code of practice, watchdog rules

    Alan Henness's comment 07 Jul 2013 6:53pm

    Christine Jahnig said:

    "In my earlier comments I mentioned homeopathy's track record for being extremely safe."

    Well, what you actually said was:

    "Homeopathic medicines have been proven safe"

    So, which is it? Have they actually been 'proven' safe or do they just have a 'track record for bring extremely safe'? Or not even that?

    Where is this track record recorded? Or isn't it?

    Nevertheless, you go on to say:

    "Since Alan Henness has brought the subject up again, I am posting this material for people in the general public who may not be aware of the evidence for this safety."


    "Two large studies have both shown that homeopathy is incapable of causing serious adverse drug reactions or life threatening situations.

    They show that on rare occasions there may be adverse drug reactions (these are milder in nature than what are termed serious adverse drug reactions). They are shown to be mild to moderate and transient causing no harm. These studies also show that homeopathy is safe for infants, children, nursing mothers and pregnant women."

    What? All homeopathic products are 'incapable of causing serious adverse drug reactions or life threatening situations'? That's some claim - it's a very strong, definite, sweeping statement: wouldn't that absolute degree of certainty require some pretty staggering research? So, reading the actual report will be interesting.

    But then you admit they can cause ADRs and AEs. So they are not 'extremely safe' or 'proven safe', are they?

    The website you linked to is an article about a report by homeopaths, published on a homeopathy website - was it even peer reviewed?

    Anyway, the summary of that report says it looked at several things, including:

    "• a literature review considering current research evidence for the safety of HMPs;
    • a survey on the safety of treatment provided by practitioners;

    The report also looked at over 20 observational studies with a total of 7,275 patients."

    These seem to be the only these items relating to safety. Without even getting as far as the report itself, can you see why anyone might not be as convinced by it as you seem to be?

    But since they don't provide a link to the actual report (and it's not obvious on the ECCH website), who knows what the report actually says...

    Anyway, you go on to state:

    "In addition to these two large studies, the text of other homeopathic studies -- including those I posted in my second comment -- invariably notes "no adverse reactions were reported" or "no side effects were reported"."

    Hmmm...If the two studies you first mentioned showed that there were, indeed, some ADRs and AEs, yet you are now asserting that other studies state there are 'invariably' no ADRs or AEs whatsoever. Very confusing.

    As you should well know, many ADRs and AEs only show up during general usage, not during clinical trials (although, as you'll know, most homeopathic products are never properly tested in the first place!) and it is the ongoing monitoring that can highlight problems. So, perhaps you could also tell us about the post-market surveillance for homeopathic products that allows homeopaths to claim anything about its track record?

    However, even if it were accepted that homeopathy products were, indeed, as safe as you seem to believe, you still need to provide good evidence that they actually work! Only armed with both sets of evidence - harm and benefit - can customers come to an informed decision.

    "Finally, the FDA approved homeopathic medicines for OTC use in the US based on its overwhelming safety record spanning almost 200 years."

    That's odd. Why, if there is good (scientific?) evidence that homeopathic products are really very safe - as you seem to believe - does the FDA rely on anecdotes? Why also, does the UK medicines regulator not accept anecdotes that they are effective and give them a full Marketing Authorisation, instead of the very low hurdle for homeopathic products that requires no evidence of efficacy and only mandates that they must be below certain dilutions?

    Any thoughts on why the hurdle should be set so low for homeopathic products?

    Alan Henness
    The Nightingale Collaboration
    Challenging misleading healthcare claims

  • Homeopathic health claims broke advertising code of practice, watchdog rules

    Alan Henness's comment 06 Jul 2013 5:13pm

    @Sandra Courtney, @Christine Jahnig:

    Your personal anecdotes may be interesting to yourselves (and I'm glad you are both well), but they're irrelevant to the subject of this article, which is about advertisers being able to substantiate claims they made.

    Christine Jahnig said:

    "The people who filed these claims against homeopaths are very much mistaken as is the judgement."

    As is stated in the adjudication, it was clearly instigated by the ASA themselves as a result of general concerns of many members of the public about widespread claims made by homeopaths. And just as well they did as they found none of the claims made could be substantiated by good evidence, ruling that the Tweet and the ad by the Society of Homeopaths breached the advertising code on no less than 35 counts.

    I'm surprised you think that being concerned at questionable claims is 'mistaken'. That is what the ASA are there for: to consider complaints and to rule on them, to ensure adverts are 'legal, decent, honest and truthful'. Do you agree that is a noble aim?

    You also said:

    "There is a large body of scientific evidence supporting the homeopathic treatment of the conditions mentioned on the Society of Homeopaths web page. Some of it can be seen at:"

    Well, maybe. But that does raise the question as to why the Society of Homeopaths - what appears to be the pre-eminent trade body for UK homeopaths, with over 1,400 members - didn't provide that evidence to the ASA in support of their claims or, if they did, why the ASA ruled that it did not meet their high standards?

    Christine Jahnig also said:

    "Homeopathic medicines have been proven safe and effective over 200 years of clinical use in hundreds of millions of people around the world. That's why homeopathy is the second most used system of medicine in the world today. It's use is growing at rates of 10% to 30% in countries around the world."

    No. Homeopathy has not been proven effective, regardless of the number of people who buy and sell it. And until homeopaths are able to provide that robust evidence of efficacy, it does not merit the accolade 'medicine'.

    But I'm intrigued why you say homeopathy has been 'proven safe'. Perhaps you could explain?

    "That, perhaps, explains the current attacks on it? "

    No. Complaints are being submitted because homeopathists make misleading claims about it; ones they cannot substantiate with good evidence. These misleading claims prevent consumers from making fully informed healthcare choices and that concerns me and many others.

    "This judgement by the ASA says homeopathy shouldn't be advertised as a treatment for bronchitis. I found it treated my chronic bronchitis very effectively. On top of that, it hasn't come back in some 10 years because I continued with homeopathic constitutional treatment."

    Do you think it would be correct for the ASA to revise their ruling because of your anecdote that 'it worked for you'?

    Would you like 'Big Pharma' to be granted the same concessions? I certainly wouldn't.

    Alan Henness
    The Nightingale Collaboration
    Challenging misleading healthcare claims