Parlimentary : Science and Technology Commitee Report on Homeopathy


UK Government dismissed the report

The Government’s Department of Health published its response to the Science & Technology Committee’s report in July 2010.

The government’s response refused to ban homeopathic products. It emphasised patient choice as a key reason for continuing to fund homeopathy on the NHS. It also argued that MHRA labelling of homeopathic products was key to ensuring that they are safe and of quality with clear labelling.

Key points from the Department of Health response:

  • Homeopathy has a long tradition in Europe and is a recognised and widely used system of medicine across the EU

  • EU Directive Recital 9 to Directive 92/73/EEC6 protects the rights of consumers to be able to choose alternative medical treatment where possible: “Whereas, despite considerable differences in the status of alternative medicines in the Member States, patients should be allowed access to the medicinal products of their choice, provided all precautions are taken to ensure the quality and safety of the said products.”

  • The Government stated that it was not possible to test if something operated under a placebo effect because there was no scientific consensus on how placebos operate

  • The Government believes that consumers who choose to use homeopathic medicines should be fully informed about their purpose and assured that standards of quality and safety are maintained

  • The MHRA therefore labels homeopathic remedies in order to ensure quality and safety of the products through labelling; though some may confuse licensing of products as safe, with endorsing homeopathic remedies directly

  • However, if conventional pharmaceutical regulation was applied to homeopathic products then they would have to be removed from sale

  • Therefore the government has a balancing act of allowing patient choice under EU legislation by licensing homeopathic products to ensure that they are high quality and safe but not endorsing such treatments directly

  • The final decision over the usage of homeopathic products rests with local healthcare providers such as Primary Care Trusts, who must judge whether alternative treatments such as homeopathy are effective and value for money

A less than rigorous approach

In his own independent report, Earl Baldwin of Bewdley stated that the committee was “less than rigorous in its approach” to the evidence; that it unwisely relied “heavily on the interpretations of one professor of CAM, some of whose statements are unsound or in conflict with other statements of his, and who is not without his critics in the worlds of research and academia whose views were given less prominence”, and that the 2005 meta analysis by Shang et al was “inaccurately represented as ruling out specific effects of homeopathy