Parlimentary : Science and Technology Commitee Report on Homeopathy


Homeopathic practitioners critiqued the report

The Faculty of Homeopathy together with the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital submitted a 6-part detailed commentary on the Science and Technology Committee’s report on 1-3 March 2010². The response was critical of the evidence used to form the report and gave a breakdown it key criticisms of the report.

These are some key points in the response:

  • That the report’s repeated assertion that homeopathy works on the placebo effect is untrue as there is scientific evidence to show that is not the case

  • It defended the scientific evidence base for homeopathy by stating that 87 Randomised Controlled Trials (RCTs) on homeopathic remedies at the same level of testing as other pharmaceutical medicines; of which 47 were positive, 2 were negative and 48 were inconclusive

  • Although there is evidence to suggest that homeopathy is not just the placebo effect, further research is needed

  • Rather than simply ‘feeling better’ due to placebo, patients who were treated at Homeopathic Hospitals have generally excellent Patient-reported outcome measures (PROMs) on non-minor complaints

  • Homeopathy is over 200 years old and the relationship between patients and doctors who practice homeopathy has not been damaged by their endorsement of homeopathic consultation and remedies

  • It is important that homeopathy remains funded so as to ensure patient choice

  • Overall the report is very biased against homeopathy. The BHA believes that this “narrow-minded and illiberal report is highly tendentious, consistently misrepresenting the scientific evidence to denigrate homeopathy, and making unfounded and pejorative allegations against those who advocate, practice or develop research in homeopathy”

You can read the full response online here:

The Society of Homeopaths responded to the report with a statement which included the following key points:

  • The Society of Homeopaths, the UK’s largest regulator of homeopaths, roundly rejects the findings of the House of Commons Science & Technology Committee Evidence Check: Homeopathy and has grave concerns about the processes that led to its report issued today.

Central to these concerns was a clarification issued at the outset of the oral evidence check by the Chair of the Committee itself, Phil Willis MP, who stated:

“…because there seems to be a little confusion about the nature of the work that we are doing, this is not an inquiry into whether homeopathy works or not. This is an inquiry which follows a series of evidence checks across a number of government departments to see whether in fact there was any evidence to support the Government’s policy towards homeopathy. I want to make that absolutely clear.”

Nevertheless, what then followed was clearly an inquiry into whether homeopathy works or not...

  • In its press release today, the Committee advises the government that “prescribing pure placebos is bad medicine’. Clearly, it is not aware that a 2008 meta-analysis involving 35 clinical trials and 5,000 patients suffering from depression found that commonly prescribed antidepressants have little more effect than ‘dummy’ placebo pills. And yet, prescriptions for anti-depressants are at record levels, with 31 million written in 2006 at a cost to the NHS of almost £300million.

To put this in context, the NHS spends £11 billion on its annual drugs budget. Of that, the annual bill for homeopathic remedies is £152,000.

  • Paula Ross, then Chief Executive of the Society of Homeopaths, said “the cost of this evidence check must surely outweigh the paltry £152,000 Minister of State, Mike O’Brien reported is spent on homeopathic medicines each year by the NHS. The public clearly wants homeopathy and instead of funding this evidence check, we would have preferred to see the government put money into much needed research into how actually homeopathy works. The evidence shows that homeopathy is effective beyond placebo. Scientists have yet to understand how.”

You can read the full response online here:


Homeopathy in practice

The Science & Technology committee did not consider any of the evidence on homeopathic medicine in practice.

For example, a service evaluation at the Bristol Homeopathic Hospital recorded the outcome of homeopathic treatment in over 6,500 consecutive patients. In this study, carried out over a six-year period, 70 per cent of patients reported an improvement in their health.