Homeopathy does not work and should not be NHS-funded – MPs
HOMEOPATHIC medicine should no longer be funded by the NHS, because there is no evidence the treatment is effective, MPs said yesterday.
The Commons Science and Technology Committee said there is a lack of proof that the drugs are any more effective than a placebo.
Committee members also said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) should not allow homeopathic medicines to carry medical claims on their labels.
There are four homeopathic hospitals in the UK – one in Glasgow based at Gartnavel General Hospital and others in London, Bristol and Liverpool.
Estimates on how much the NHS spends on homeopathy vary, with the Society of Homeopaths putting the figure at 4 million a year including the cost of running hospitals.
Health Minister Mike O'Brien told the committee the spend on homeopathic medicines was 152,000 a year.
However the row over homeopathic medicine has intensified over recent years as the NHS comes under pressure from patients suffering from life-threatening illnesses such as cancer to fund new, expensive drugs.
Yesterday's report by MPs recommending the NHS should not fund homeopathic treatments comes after a study published in January 2008 showed more than a quarter of primary care trusts had stopped or reduced funding over the previous two years for homeopathic therapies.
A group of UK scientists wrote to NHS trusts in 2006 recommending they reject funding for "unproven or disproved treatments".
High-profile supporters of homeopathic medicine include Prince Charles, whose Foundation for Integrated Health has protested over the MPs' report.
The foundation's medical director Dr Michael Dixon claimed the patient had been "left out" of the MPs' report.
He said: "We should not abandon patients we cannot help with conventional scientific medicine."
Homeopathic remedies were devised more than 200 years ago by a German doctor.
Treatment involves using highly-diluted substances to trigger the body to heal itself.
A spokeswoman for NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, said: "In 2004–05 we reviewed inpatient services at the homeopathic hospital. The conclusion of our review was that the board continue to offer these services and that remains our position today."
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