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Homeopathy 'should be available on the NHS', says minister

By Nigel Praities

Homeopathy should remain available on the NHS despite no evidence it is more powerful than placebo, the Government said yesterday.

Health minister Mike O'Brien said GPs should have the freedom to prescribe a homeopathic treatment if they chose, subject to agreement by their local PCT.

The comments came during an evidence session of the House of Commons Science and Technology meeting, which is looking at the use of homeopathy on the NHS.

After some hard questioning from the committee, Mr O'Brien revealed up to £10 million was spent on homeopathic treatments by the NHS last year, despite no evidence they were effective beyond placebo.

‘There is some evidence that the placebo effect works and there are a lot of doctors who take the view that it works and it is also that case that we have a lot of people who believe in it,' he said.

‘But if you are asking me as a minister if there is enough evidence that is empirical and peer-assessed, then the answer is no,' he admitted.

‘We take the view that it is not our job to stop clinicians prescribing these medications if they feel they are appropriate.'

Evan Harris MP, a member of the select committee, said the minister was supporting ‘paternalistic deception' by continuing to allow homeopathic treatments to be available on the NHS.

Health minister Mike O'Brien defended the availability of homeopathic treatments on the NHS Health minister Mike O'Brien defended the availability of homeopathic treatments on the NHS

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