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.’