Peers condemn new licensing regulations for homoeopathic medicines
Peers have strongly condemned new regulations bringing homoeopathy into the mainstream of the NHS during a House of Lords debate, writes Lilian Anekwe.
The UK drug regulator was accused of being 'in breach of its statutory duties' over the regulations allowing homoeopathic medicines to make specific therapeutic claims.
Homoeopathic medicines can now be licensed based only on 'provings' of efficacy, rather than hard clinical or preclinical data required for other drugs.
Lord Taverne, who led the debate and is chair of the charity Sense About Science, criticised the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency for 'promoting homoeopathy'. He called for the regulations, which came into force on 1 September this year to be annulled.
But health minister Lord Warner said the move would improve the regulation of homoeopathic medicines and bring 'significant benefits' for patients.
Dr Alvin Hoelzl, a GP in Withernsea, East Yorkshire, accused the MHRA of double standards. 'On the one hand, there is increased scrutiny of existing medicines and on the other the Government is blurring boundaries for producers of homoeopathic medicines. Claiming efficacy in products that aren't properly tested is dangerous.'
But Dr Tim Robinson, a GP and homoeopath in Beaminster, Dorset, said: 'There is evidence to say homoeopathic medicines are effective, so wouldn't it be lovely if we could have it in the mainstream of NHS prescribing?