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Ministers considering ‘blacklisting’ homeopathic medicines

The Department of Health is looking at blacklisting homeopathic products to stop GPs prescribing them on the NHS, it has been announced.

It comes after campaigning group the Good Thinking Society threatened legal action against CCGs for continuing to fund the prescriptions, and proposed there should be a judicial review on blacklisting the products.

The society told Pulse its lawyers had now received confirmation from the Department of Health that it ’has now decided to conduct a consultation into the question of whether homeopathic products should be included in Schedule 1’ – the so-called NHS blacklist.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has previously come under criticism for supporting a parliamentary motion on homeopathy, but has since indicated it should no longer be funded if the evidence does not support it.

Minister for life sciences George Freeman said: ‘With rising health demands, we have a duty to make sure we spend NHS funds on the most effective treatments.

‘We are currently considering whether or not homeopathic products should continue to be available through NHS prescriptions. We expect to consult on proposals in due course.’

The Good Thinking Society, led by acclaimed science writer Simon Singh, says the NHS is spending as much as £5m a year on the treatments despite no evidence they are effective.

Welcoming the DH announcement, Dr Singh said: ‘Given the finite resources of the NHS, any spending on homeopathy is utterly unjustifiable, when the money spent on these disproven remedies can be far better spent on treatments that offer real benefits to patients.’

However, leading GP advocate of alternative medicine Dr Michael Dixon told Pulse there was a ’vendetta’ against GPs who prescribe homeopathic treatments. 

Dr Dixon said: ‘Most GPs don’t know about homeopathic medicines and aren’t aware they are able to prescribe them in the first place, so I think we’re talking about a very few GPs and very small number of prescriptions.’

He added: ‘I think it’s small fish and it’s very much a vendetta against those GPs who do use and prescribe homeopathic remedies, it’s more of an ideological act than a practical solution.’

Readers' comments (30)

  • The complete eradication of homeopathy from the NHS will mean that GPs will only be able to prescribe conventional pharmaceuticals for patients. Pharmaceuticals for which the evidence base is not only weak http://clinicalevidence.bmj.com/x/set/static/cms/efficacy-categorisations.html, but increasingly revealed to be corrupted http://www.alltrials.net/find-out-more/why-this-matters/the-alltrials-campaign/and which currently fill A&E wards with adverse reactions costing the NHS £770 million a year http://www.frontier-economics.com/publications/exploring-the-costs-of-unsafe-care-in-the-nhs/. Great work 'Dr' Singh!

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  • "Anonymous | Other healthcare professional16 Nov 2015 11:24am"

    That's not an argument for the NHS spending money on homeopathy. That's an argument for doing better with conventional medicine and pharma companies, but failures with those does not make the witch-doctor woo woo of homeopathy turn credible. It's typical tactic of homeopathy believers to try and divert attention.

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  • There's an excellent summary of the evidence base for homeopathy here: http://www.howdoeshomeopathywork.com/

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  • Peter Swinyard

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMGIbOGu8q0 for anyone who has not seen it.
    Homeopathy, as far as I understand it, is based on the theory that contact with a minimal dilution of something that causes a problem will make the body fight that problem. So, every drop of water you drink in London has been through 7 other people. Statistically 50% will be female and many of those will be of reproductive years and on the contraceptive pill. So ALL the water you drink in London has been in contact with a substance which causes infertility. So why is every woman in London not pregnant???

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  • "David Palmer | NHS Manager16 Nov 2015 12:46pm
    There's an excellent summary of the evidence base for homeopathy here: http://www.howdoeshomeopathywork.com/ "


    WONDERFUL!!!

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  • Paul- how do you scientifically exclude placebo effects from all your consultations and prescriptions?

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  • Placebo is known to work and it is not nothing, doctors used to have the little red pill and the white pill but that isn't available anymore.

    Homeopathy is just another way of accessing the power of placebo. If patients choose to believe in it, they are getting the placebo effect, just like the days of old when patients got the little red pill.

    All very well stopping it, but if it is cheap to issue, banning it will do more harm than good. We all know the patients who won't leave without a prescription in hand, at least a bit of water can't do any harm and plenty of GPs would like to have the mystique of a little red pill for the hypochondriac in their life.

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  • watch 'homeopathic A&E' on youtube.
    if homeopathic nonsense was real then this would be a training video not a joke.

    If you want to give a placebo be honest and tell your patients. There is plenty of evidence it will still work

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  • Practice manager 10:36.

    do not go to a GMC hearing using this as a justification for your GPs telling lies to their patients

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  • A Short History

    Ill person seeks health advice:

    2000 BCE: Here, eat this root.
    1000 AD: That root is heathen. Here, say this prayer.
    1850 AD: That prayer is superstition. Here, drink this potion.
    1940 AD: That potion is snake oil. Here, swallow this pill.
    1985 AD: That pill is ineffective. Here, take this antibiotic.
    2011 AD: That antibiotic is artificial. Here, eat this root.

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