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Arnica pill the first homeopathic remedy to get MHRA licence

By Nigel Praities

The MHRA has granted its first ever licence to a homeopathic medicine under its controversial new scheme for extending licenses to complementary therapies.

The drug regulator has granted an arnica homeopathic product a licence for the relief of sprains or bruising, in a move derided as ‘cynical mockery' by opponents,

Nelson's Arnicare Arnica 30c pillules are the first to be given a therapeutic indication via the Homeopathic National Rules Scheme, introduced in September 2006.

The label will now read: ‘A homeopathic medicinal product used within the homeopathic tradition for symptomatic relief of sprains, muscular aches and bruising or swelling after contusions.'

Robert Wilson, chair of Nelsons, said: ‘The fact therapeutic indications may now be included on the packaging of licensed homeopathic medicines not only opens the practice of homeopathy up to new users but also gives it added credibility as a safe and natural complement to conventional medicine.'

But the license comes despite experts saying there is no evidence the product has any benefit.

Professor Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at Peninsula Medical School in Exeter, said arnica homeopathic remedies were the most studied of all homeopathic products, and had been shown to not work: ‘There is no biological plausibility, so this is a cynical mockery of evidence-based medicine.'

A randomised trial published by Professor Ernst and colleagues in 2003 showed no benefit from arnica in prevention of pain and bruising after surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome, with more adverse events in the arnica group than with placebo.

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