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Breaking News! Government backs NHS Homeopathy!

Dec 1, 2009: A wonderful day for British Homeopathy

Here follow the immortal words of Health Minister, Mike O’Brien: ‘We take the view that it is not our job to stop clinicians prescribing these medications if they feel they are appropriate.’ See more here. Striking a blow for liberty worthy of John Stuart Mill, the Honorable Minister went on to say that cutting the (NHS) funding would be “illiberal” and “a denial of personal choice”. He also said there were a range of opinions amongst clinicians and scientists which could not be ignored.

This was after being grilled by the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee which comprised many people less than friendly to homeopathy. such as Edzard Ernst, Ben Goldacre and Tracey Brown all of whom lambasted homeopathy in the hearing. But the Health minister hinted at the essential point: NHS homepathy is practised by trained doctors who have to take responsibility for what they do. That is the headline and the bottom line and the middle line and all the other lines in between. Mike O’Brien knew it and had the guts to say it in the face of massive negative publicity in the media. Bravo Minister!

This is a wonderful, frabjous day for homeopathy, medicine and freedom. The Jabberwock of opposition to NHS homeopathy has yet to be slain that’s for sure, but make no mistake about it, dear reader, this is a BIG day for homeopathy and I’ll be chortling for the rest of today that’s for sure!

😀   😀   😀

“And, has thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!’
He chortled in his joy.”

(from Lewis Carrol’s Jabberwocky)


By | 2009-12-01T18:53:32+01:00 December 1st, 2009|Current Affairs, Homeopathy|51 Comments

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51 Comments

  1. Elizabeth Flynn December 3, 2009 at 12:16 am

    It is indeed a wonderful day for British Homoeopathy and thank you for letting us know about this. I wonder where this leaves the homoeopath who is well trained in the practice of homoeopathy but just happens not to be a medical doctor. Could you comment on this?
    Much enjoy your posts.
    Elizabeth

    • Dr. Kaplan December 3, 2009 at 11:13 am

      Thanks for that Elizabeth,
      You ask a critical and important question. Obviously NHS homeopathy is practised by doctors who are totally accountable for what they do. If an NHS doctor prescribes a homeopathic remedy to a patient with pneumonia who subsequently dies, s/he can be disciplined, struck off the register and sued for an unlimited amount of money for which s/he is obliged to be insured. Outside NHS homeopathic hospitals, it is a different story. I have met many excellent homeopaths who are not medical doctors including a major teacher of mine, George Vithoulkas. In many cases these homeopaths know more homeopathy than doctors, because they have studied it for years full time. However they do lack the experience and medical training of doctors which can be vital in certain clinical situations. I’ve heard professional homeopaths say that if ‘they suspect something serious’ they always refer to a doctor, but this can be problematic. The very index of suspicion is related to medical knowledge. Fully trained doctors sometimes just don’t think of a thyroid problem – for example- and test for it appropriately, so non-doctor homeopaths who would be even less likely to think of it, are more likely to miss things like hypothyroidism.
      This does not mean I’m against non-medically trained homeopaths though. I think they can play a very important role in health care. My personal view is that the best place for them is to work in some way in conjunction with a GP or any doctor sympathetic to homeopathy. If they are referred the sort of patients they are happy to treat – and this covers a broad spectrum of problems – with the GP taking responsibility for the referral, we could see homeopathy play an important role in healthcare nationally. I do know some homeopaths doing this and must stress that this is simply my personal preference. I certainly would not favour legislation to enforce this in any way. I think patients should be allowed to see whoever they want as long as nobody misrepresents themselves. Medicine is not easy and many doctors are haunted by a missed diagnosis they have made in their lives. If doctors make these types of mistakes, surely people who didn’t go to medical school are likely to make more. Perhaps one day we will see a sensible way to resolve this problem. I really like the image of a GP sending many ‘diagnosed but difficult to treat’ cases to a homeoapath, ideally but not necessarily in the same premises.

  2. Andy Lewis December 4, 2009 at 1:31 pm

    How typical of homeopaths to scrape the barrel and cherry pick the proceedings for the one glimmer of hope they have.

    The government minister was, of course, just stating the current DoH line on homeopathy – hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. That possition came under quite a withering attack during the three sessions. What was almost universally accepted was the complete lack of evidence of efficacy for homeopathy. Only Fisher and the pill seller pretended that by presenting only positive trials, you could make some sort of case – a stance that was easily exposed during the sessions.

    I would not get too exited yet about this review – you are likely to meet hubris. It is likely that doctors, such as yourself, will continue to have the right to mislead patients with placebos. However, it is not at all clear that homeopathy will continue to be funded by the NHS as a distinct practice. It is also likely that the MHRA will come under pressure to take a much tougher stance.

    As you yourself hint at Brian, the world of lay homeopathy is full of dangers. The fact that medical homeopaths tacitly, or otherwise, support their delusions is a failing of the highest order. My suspicion is that if you did stand up to their appallingly irresponsible actions, then NHS medical homeopaths would have a much quieter time.

    • Dr. Kaplan December 5, 2009 at 1:28 am

      Okay Andy let me answer your points one by one:
      1. ‘How typical of homeopaths to scrape the barrel and cherry pick the proceedings for the one glimmer of hope they have.’ I don’t agree. The minister’s words and summation are by far the most important thing to come out of this hearing. It will take years for the anti-homeopathy brigade to get to this stage again – from a political point of view. As for ‘cherry picking’ there is a big debate about the meta-analyses and how they were chosen. It is arrogant of homeoopathy’s critics to say there is ‘no evidence’ to show that homeopathy works.
      2. Re: ‘withering attacks’ the description of the aims of some of the members of the committee as ‘illiberal’ sounded pretty withering to me! I’ve fought this battle on a libertarian platform throughout. I do not criticise Ernst, Baum, Colquhoun, Singh, Goldacre etc. for trying to dissaude GPs from sending patients to homeopathic doctors. I don’t even mind if they call these doctors stupid or insult them in any way. What I object to is the attempt to THWART GPs from sending patients from homeopathic treatment where they would have to take responsibility for the referral and the homeopathic doctor for the treatment.
      3. ‘the right to mislead patients with placebos’. This is where you start to insult us. We BELIEVE our medicines work even if you do not. Therefore we do not ‘mislead patients’.
      4. ‘to be funded by the NHS’ So you think that everything else the NHS funds is evidence based do you? Do you? Well look at this pie that shows what proportion of ‘commonly used’ conventional treatments are fully supported by evidence. I’ve tried to publicise this pie http://clinicalevidence.bmj.com/ceweb/about/knowledge.jsp in many ways and the comments about it by people like Ernst (whose apparent ‘refutation’ of it on Pulse was utterly embarrassing) and Les Rose who incorrectly assumed that it included treatments which were ‘hardly every used’ when the authors clearly state that it tabulates ‘commonly used’ treatments.http://drkaplan.co.uk/2009/11/homeopathy/the-pie-gets-more-emphatic/
      In addition, the massive multi-billion dollar breakthrough of anti-depressants came under huge pressure when a massive meta-analysis showed there was hardly any evidence that anti-depressants were any use whatsoever except in the most severe cases of depression and only then when alternatives had been tried. http://www.plosmedicine.org/article/info:doi/10.1371/journal.pmed.0050045 Why not attack antidepressants? Just look at the amount of money spent on them? The whole of the discipline of psychiatry is embarrassed by the very term ‘evidence based medicine’. And there are many more examples obviously if you look at the BMJ’s pie. But no, journalists Goldacre, Singh, consultants Baum, Colquhoun and others choose to use EBM exclusively to attack homeopathy and CAM because imo somehow they feel these disciplines are an affront to their deterministic, mechanistic and ‘naively realistic’ view of the universe. So they say they are mounting this campaign for the good of the public and can even stoop to trying to prevent GPs from referring patient for homeopathy by going over their heads and writing to every PCT in the country inappropriately on paper with an NHS logo. http://www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publicationsandstatistics/Bulletins/theweek/DH_079859 If they were simply champions of EBM across the board, their position would at least be honorable, but their behaviour shows them to be guilty of the horrendous double standards. If I’m missing something let me know please and thanks for commenting on my blog. Brian.

  3. Dr. MUKHTAR AHMAD (ALIGARH) December 4, 2009 at 3:45 pm

    Sir,
    Really a breaking news for all the so called scientific world that no body can ignore the effects of homoeopathy.Its time to celebrate & work with unity as we did in this case for the upliftment of Homeopathy.
    Cheers

    • Dr. Kaplan December 4, 2009 at 9:13 pm

      Yes this is good news. I agree with you that the effects of homeopathy cannot be ignored. Millions of people benefit from homeopathy worldwide and this is ‘evidence’ as far as I am concerned. One day we will know how homeopathy works too!

  4. Hans G Schrauder December 4, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    I like a lot of what you are saying above. With respect to the comment “Government backs homeopathy”, I am a bit more cautious in my understanding of what was said. I interpret Mike O’Brian’s remarks as saying that it is a clinical matter (what therapies are used) and not one that government approves or disapproves of. It is a positive thing that Government emphasis patient choice, but we should not read what he said as a stamp of approval for homoeopathy per se.

    • Dr. Kaplan December 4, 2009 at 9:11 pm

      Thank you for this. I was thrilled that the government supported democracy and liberty and didn’t try to control and coerce doctors who are fully accountable for the clinical decisions they make. Nobody expected support for homeopathy – but we did need those that wanted to close down NHS homeopathy to be shown the door for now and that they were told that they were ‘illiberal’ was a big bonus for me as I’ve fought this thing on a libertarian platform for a long time now.

  5. Andy Lewis December 5, 2009 at 11:55 am

    Brian

    1) As I say, it is difficult to support the idea that “minister’s words and summation are by far the most important thing to come out of this hearing” simply because he is merely stating current government thinking. The whole purpose of the session is to examine what evidence this position is based on. It would be bizarre if the minister has not made such a statement. You are mistaking a conclusion with a premise.

    The conclusions of the session are yet to be published. I would be very surprised if the current position was left unchallenged by the report.

    It is most definitely not ‘arrogant’ to conclude there is no [good] evidence for homeopathy. One can only conclude that there is evidence by doing one of a few things: cherry picking (which all the pro homeopathy submissions did – quite shamefully), and obfuscation (pretending meta-analyses like Shang are ‘discredited’ when no substantive criticism has been made).

    When you take into account all the evidence and combine it with the shere mind numbingly stupid implausibility, the only honest intellectual position to take is that homeopathy is nonsense.

    2) The libertarian argument is something of a red herring since doctors are most definitely not free to practice in any way they wish. You are bound by strict codes of conduct and ethics – and if you used homeopathy for anything serious when there were real alternatives, you would be struck off.

    In a public health service, decisions must be made about what to fund: the stated aims of the government are to base that funding on best evidence (e.g. NICE). My guess is that the report will find the stance on magic treatments (like homeopathy) to be at odds with that overall aim.

    3) You do mislead patients with homeopathy. Whether you believe you do or not is immaterial. I for one, would rather you knew you were misleading your patient rather than believing you were using effective treatments when you are not. There are only two choices in medical homeopathy: honest deception or incompetence – there is no nice way to say this.

    4) The gambit of ‘other NHS treatments are not evidence based’ is tired and dishonest too. Firstly, you pick your source to suit your argument. There are other assessments of the reach of EBM into treatments that are far more favourable. This has all been pointed out to you many times – yet you persist with your story. And it has also been pointed out to you that it is not a defense of homeopathy. No matter what figures you accept, homeopathy is on the wrong side of them, not only very poorly evidenced, but totally implausible and unscientific too. It is the argument of a naughty schoolboy: “the other boys are doing it too”. Maybe – but you have been caught.

    You again undermine your own position by bringing up antidepressants. Yes, the latest best evidence suggests that they are not good for mild to moderate depression. This has been widely publicised and taken on board by many. Can you give me one example where homeopaths have changed their practice as a result of evidence? Of course not, homeopathy is immune to evidence. If it fails for one thing it all fails. That is because it attempts a vastly grand explanation of all illness. Homeopaths cannot let any chinks to appear in their grand plan.

    I note you do not address my point about medical homeopaths standing side by side with their lay colleagues. This is what I find most offensive. By all means play with your pills, but your silence is tacit support of the mad and dangerous activities of the non medically qualified homeopaths. Most disgracefully, the Faculty of Homeopaths failed to fully support the WHO in their recent condemnation of homeopathic treatment for HIV, malaria etc. and issued an obfuscating press release. If you started to help to stop their idiocies, you might well be left alone. Until you do, you will be seen as part of the problem, not the solution.

  6. Dr. Kaplan December 5, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Andy, thanks for your comments. May I say that I’m happy to debate this live with you in the future.

    Addressing some of your points:

    1. I simply don’t agree that there is ‘no evidence’ to suggest homeopathy works. I’m not an experienced researcher but have read enough of the debate and my opinion is that it is very far from being a clearly established fact. The interpretation of the meta-analyses is highly controversial to say the least. We could do with more positive trials and more funding for them (unfortunately for us we don’t have Big Pharma funding our trials), but the trials that have been done certainly don’t show that homeopathy doesn’t work – or that is the way many of us see it.

    2. I disagree with this. Although doctors should certainly be held to account if they harm patients, they need not unnecessarily be nannied by the state into exactly how they should help patients. A minority of patients in this country have been helped in the long term by homeopathy. We homeopaths think it’s due to the inherent medicinal qualities of our medicines. Sceptics may think it’s placebo, voodoo, magic, hypnosis, suggestion or whatever but the bottom line is that they have been helped and results are durable too. To deny these patients NHS homeopathy would be to use nocebo to harm patients in my opinion. And patients would be harmed – make no mistake – if they were denied NHS homeopathy by legislation of any sort.

    3. I disagree with what you say both about homeopathy and honesty. I believe homeopathy works and use it on my family and patients when appropriate. If I didn’t believe it works yet continued to prescribe it – that would be misleading patients. We disagree on the meaning of the word ‘mislead’ here. Don’t forget I strongly disagree with you when you say homeopathic remedies don’t have inherent medicinal qualities.

    4. Oh yes? Show me the ‘refutation’ of the BMJ pie. Ernst’s attempt in a comment on Pulse was embarrassing and others have incorrectly said it includes treatments which are ‘hardly used’ when the authors state that it refers to ‘commonly used’ treatments.

      Re: antidepressants:

    No, the evidence says they are of use only in the ‘most severe’ cases and then only if alternatives haven’t worked. ‘Taken on board by many’: Really? Evidence for this please.

      ‘Maybe – but you have been caught.’

    :- ) That’s funny! So it’s just unlucky for us hey? Could just as easily have been the psychiatrists (whose profession is severely challenged by EBM) – if anybody decided to be vindictive about them in a similar way to how homeopathy has been treated. We just happen to be the ones who got caught! Mmmmmm…:- )

      Re: ‘Can you give me one example where homeopaths have changed their practice as a result of evidence?’

    Actually I can. A few decades ago an NHS GP who used homeopathy did a trial to see if a homeopathic preparation of the whooping cough vaccine offered any protection against the disease. It did not. Result: the trial was published and had the effect not only of homeopathic doctors not using the preparation but of being against all forms of so called ‘homeopathic vaccines’ and this was enshrined in the code of practice of the Faculty of Homeopathy. But of course you knew in advance that charlatans like us could/would never do anything like this, didn’t you? That’s perhaps why you answered your own question before hearing what I had to say.

      Re: non-doctor homeopaths:

    The Faculty of Homeopathy has a long history of dealing with the issue of non-medical homeopathy. It has always maintained that ideally homeopathy should be practised by doctors and indeed this is true for NHS homeopathy which is what this debate has been all about after all! However, I do believe there is a role for responsible well-trained homeopaths working under the supervision of GPs (this happens too) or patients where important pathology has been excluded being referred by GPs to homeopaths.

    Re: HIV and AIDS: I have a cousin, Dr Richard Kaplan, in South Africa who has done pioneering work on HIV in the Cape, getting marvelous results with a very disadvantaged segment of the population, with anti-retrovirals and a wonderful support structure where HIV+ people counsel new cases to comply with the drugs. There is much in orthodox medicine I deeply admire. Psychiatry might not have advanced that much in many decades but syphilis, TB, diabetes and so many other fatal conditions have been put to the sword. Nevertheless homeopathy has an important role to play too. Peter Fisher made it clear during the hearing that in his opinion HIV patients can be helped with homeopathy for some complications and side effects of drugs alongside orthodox treatment. This is an example of true complementary or integrated medicine.

    I too have been appalled by anyone claiming to ‘cure’ AIDS or HIV infection with homeopathy or any other form of ‘alternative’ to orthodox medication. In my view this would be as irresponsible as treating syphilis with ‘alternative medicine’ instead of the highly effective injection of Penicillin. Far from turning my back on conventional medicine, I admire its best qualities hugely and use it when appropriate – as I do homeopathy.

    It’s also important for you to understand the holistic philosophy behind homeopathy and CAM. It’s not the same as in mechanistic medicine where a disease is treated primarily . This is a big discussion but here is a little recommended reading:

    1. First use of word holism by Smuts:

    2. Philosophy and Medicine: E.K. Ledermann (1970)Masterpiece

    3. The Homeopathic Conversation: B.Kaplan (2001) 😉

    4. New Medicine: Integrating Complementary, Alternative, and Conventional Medicine for the Safest and Most Effective Treatment (DK Complete Family Health Guides) by David Peters and Kenneth R.

  7. Andy Lewis December 5, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Brian,

    What makes homeopathy so interesting is that it is possible to say, with as much certainty as you can say about anything in science, that it is bunkum. And as a result of that, it is fascinating to see people that still believe in it.

    In two hundred years, homeopaths have failed to provide any convincing rationale or evidence base for its basic principles. Indeed, science can quite clearly and simple show why the ideas of like-cures-like and serial dilution must be erroneous. Add on top a clinical evidence base that looks identical to what you would expect from several hundred (mostly) underpowered and flawed trials and there is really nothing left to say about the science of homeopathy.

    And it is a massively misleading to try to compare this with the state of knowledge about real medical practices as you do with the BMJ clinical evidence pie chart. Other published papers have come to quite different conclusions such (1) as Ellis et al (1995) which looked at General practice on oxford and concluded 82% of interventions were based on high quality evidece, (2) Michaud et al 1998 thought over two thirds of interventions were based on placebo or head-to-head RCTs. Nordin-Johansson 2000 concluded that more than half were based on RCTs. And there are more. Given that there may no need for many interventions to be based on RCTs, then practice, as a whole, does indeed look very evidence based.

    Contrast this with homeopathy where there is not a single condition where the conclusion would be that best practice is to use homeopathy. There is no good clinical evidence for anything. Homeopathy is just not evidence based – and worse, it is not even science based. It defies well established principles of science and essentially uses magic thinking for justify itself.

    It is simply not true that the science is controversial. It is only controversial in the minds of homeopaths who cling to its dogma. The science of homeopathy is straightforward – it is an inert treatment, based in prescientific ideas of mind, body and healing.

    So why do homeopaths persist? You claim you believe it works and the pills have ‘inherent medicinal properties’. What evidence makes it so compelling to you that others might have missed? Indeed we do disagree what ‘misleading’ means as you appear to think you can only mislead people about your beliefs whereas it is also quite possible to mislead people about the truth too.

    And so to medical homeopaths not using homeoprophylaxis. It is interesting that it took a negative trial to convince you this was a bad idea when there was no good reason to think it was true in the fist place. Leaving aside, what I might say is a cynical view that of course you could not use sugar pills as vaccinations without being struck off, why are medical homeopaths not shouting out loud about their beliefs to the Society of Hoemopaths whose members routinely tell their customers that they do not need MMR/ antimalrials ect and can instead use sugar pills? One would have though you had an absolute duty to do your best to prevent this murderous idiocy. And how come you have not responded to all the other negative trials of homeopathy? Is it because you can get away with ignoring them?

    If as a medical homeopath, you believe homeopathy is best practiced by medically trained people, then you ought to be saying this very loudly. The Faculty appear to want to avoid any split with their lay brethren at the moment and it just makes them look culpable. You know full what they believe and do – it is a fundamentalist stance – hostile to ‘allopaths’, drugs and science and convineced they hold the keys to healing truth. That you allow them to indulge these fantasies is appalling. They are no fans of you, and I believe, you are no fans of them, but together you are tied through an opportunistic alliance where your enemies, enemy is your friend.

    I would suggest, and getting back to the post, that this evidence enquiry, and the pressure that arises from it, would not have happened if you medical homeopaths had got your shit together.

    • Dr. Kaplan December 5, 2009 at 9:04 pm

      Andy,
      I don’t agree with much of what you say but will defend until death your right to say it – hence your comments are published here. With regard to non-doctors who do you think you are telling us what we should say to non-doctors? I’ve stated my view clearly and so has the Faculty of Homeopathy. I agree the advocating of any form of homeopathic prophylaxis instead of routine vaccination is irresponsible. I have no authority over The Society of Homeopaths and neither does the Faculty. I’ve said that some are excellent and responsible in many ways and some are not. And this debate was about NHS homeopathy practised by doctors! If the Society supports NHS homeopathy by doctors should we say they are wrong to do so?

      Obviously you are quite incapable of understanding or at least unwilling to understand anything other than in the context of the deterministic paradigm you view things. In this regard I can understand and even have a little compassion for your anger about this issue and why you will never read a book like Philosophy and Medicine by E.K. Ledermann which looks at these issues in a profound way. You know what you know and that is that. Ledermann aptly called this ‘philosophy’ of common sense, often found in doctors – naive realism.

      You ask: ‘What evidence makes it so compelling to you that others might have missed?’ Well seeing as you say ‘to you’ I’ll tell you. I, like many homeopathic doctors started off as a sceptic. So I tried a few ‘amateur trials’ myself such as giving a patient a series of blank powders and only putting the active powder (indistinguishable from the rest) in say powder 15 of 30. When patients started to get better only after 2 weeks, I learned something about the power of homeopathy. When patients reported immediate benefit, I learned something about placebo – as all homeopaths do. The irony here is that homeopaths know much more about placebo than orthodox doctors, believe it or not. A patient taking the remedy Arg. met 6 long term for arthritic pain was given Arg.nit 6 by mistake many years ago. She couldn’t understand why the ‘same’ medicine had done nothing. A return to Arg. met 6 and all was well. Not scientific evidence but pretty compelling when it happens in front of your eyes.

      Obviously we are not going to get agree on anything here but I have offered to debate with this you in front of an audience. The Health Minister’s use of the word ‘illiberal’ was encouraging. I notice you don’t address this point: Sceptics may think it’s placebo, voodoo, magic, hypnosis, suggestion or whatever but the bottom line is that they have been helped and results are durable too. To deny these patients NHS homeopathy would be to use nocebo to harm patients in my opinion. And patients would be harmed – make no mistake – if they were denied NHS homeopathy by legislation of any sort.’ This is the rub. Even if you think it’s all placebo (and I obviously do NOT think this) it’s still illiberal

        to try to stop something that people are benefiting from – whatever the mechanism of action.

      THAT is the platform I’ve fought this thing on and opposed those who would THWART rather than dissuade fully qualified medical doctors from referring patients to other fully qualified medical doctors practising on the NHS who take responsibility for their actions. This hearing was an attempt in that direction as was the infamous letter written to PCTs iinappropriately on paper with an NHS logo.
      However by the time the DoH described it as thus (ie inappropriate), a lot of damage had been done to NHS homeopathy by some PCTs (which are composed mainly of lay people) deciding (with this letter probably influencing them) to prevent doctors from sending patients in their areas to NHS homeopathic doctors. This was an utter disgrace imo but hey the ends justify the means don’t they, Andy? So what if it was a low blow? It got the right result didn’t it?

      Andy, take your argument about science, molecules, placebo and suggestion to The Faculty or the many researchers who write about this and are experts on trials and meta-analyses. I’m more interested in medicine, liberty and democracy as I’ve consistenly said and after many setback, this week I finally had cause for a little celebration – so please excuse me feeling a little happy for a while.

  8. Andy Lewis December 5, 2009 at 10:46 pm

    What limits on liberty?

    Is it illiberal to try to stop Matthias Rath from pushing his vitamins as a cure for Aids to South Africans? Is it undemocratic to not provide pharmaceuticals that have limited benefits for late stage cancer patients but have very high costs? Would it interfere with the liberty of members of the Society of Homeopaths to condemn their support for homeopathic malaria clinics in Africa.

    Liberty is like ‘freedom’ – a word that one cannot be against. But like all concepts, it has limits. In medicine, especially public medicine, the limits must surely be based around our knowledge of risks, benefits and costs. Your code of ethics prevent you having absolute liberty: the interests of the patient override your personal liberty. When homeopathy fails to demonstrate any benefit, despite its extravagant claims, then your liberty to use it is curtailed to that where you will do no harm by forgoing possibly better alternatives.

    You appear to base your evidence on your personal experience as if this trumps both basic science and the result of the clinical studies that have been done. Do you not find that problematic? How do you reconcile your conclusions from ad hoc and limited anecdote with the lack of evidence from more robust sources? Do you not recognise that medicine is littered with the errors of GOBSAT evidence (Good Old Boys Sat Around Table)?

    And so you say that you have no authority over the Society of Homeopathy. Of course not. Not direct authority. But you have the authority of your medical training. The Faculty of Homeopathy could unequivocally condemn the many bad practices of lay homeopaths and warn the public of the dangers they face in consulting them. I would argue that you have a moral duty to do so. You are one of the few bodies that could do something to pull them in and constrain their wildest fantasies. The Society may support medical homeopaths. Medical homeopaths provides legitimacy to them. It provides legitimacy to the Indian government getting away with diverting badly needed medical resources to thousands of quacks. You badly need to condemn all of this. Your silence is damning.

    It is also a massive distraction to accuse homeopaths detractors of being naive realists since it has no bearing on the issues at hand. Let us take the example of lay homeopaths trying prevent malaria in African children with homeopathic sugar pills. Do these children fare better than a similar group of children taking just sugar pills? Do fewer catch malaria and fewer die? What aspects of naive realism impinge on this discussion? How does one’s philosophical stance change whether or not some of those children will die?

    Similarly, (re the PCT letter) how does the choice stationery change the message that homeopathy does not work and should not be funded? Is the argument not worth adressing on its own right rather than arguing about choice of logos?

    Both the attempts to create a straw man on philosophical positions and the attempt to focus the debate on the medium rather than the message are avoiding the uncomfortable truth that there is no good reason to use homeopathy using public money.

    You may well be feeling happy that the minister washed his hands of understanding these issues. I doubt the report in the new year will be so kind.

    • Dr. Kaplan December 6, 2009 at 11:51 am

      Andy, We clearly inhabit paradigms lightyears apart. I’ve tried to keep this discussion about NHS homeopathy provided by qualified NHS doctors which is what I’ve written about. You clearly have many more axes to grind. It is also quite clear to me that what one writes in these comments often says more about oneself than those one is writing about. Here’s a suggestion: You read Philosophy and Medicine and I’ll read a book of your choice. Perhaps then, we will have a more productive type of conversation – maybe even in public, but this one is over as far as I am concerned.

  9. Ruth December 6, 2009 at 1:18 am

    Doc,

    Those who ignore the pie are condemned to repeat it.

    I am enjoying the bickering here. Nobody’s mind is going to be changed and there is no solution for this problem of heuristic dissonance. People dig in to defend their various points of view and are prepared to battle it to death…for honor! Civilization is merely the mastery of violence.

    Congratulations on your masterful display of inter-tribal Kung-Fu…and I think the British Gummit acted wisely here, allowing more profits to be made by more people. Finally, coming around to capitalism.

    The last problem we have in USA-USA is bickering between people in glass houses, throwing stones at each other. We simply throw stones for the money it can make. If homeopathy is highly profitable, everybody would be doing it. It’s all about profits, baybay! Come live here…and please show me the profit margins for placebos and almost placebos.
    Malpractice insurance is expensive and we are governed by evidence-based lawyers, so you will be fine.

    Look at this so you can all feel better about national health insurance…and owning Aetna shares:

    Health insurance giant Aetna is planning to force up to 650,000 clients to drop their coverage next year as it seeks to raise additional revenue to meet profit expectations.

    In a third-quarter earnings conference call in late October, officials at Aetna announced that in an effort to improve on a less-than-anticipated profit margin in 2009, they would be raising prices on their consumers in 2010. The insurance giant predicted that the company would subsequently lose between 300,000 and 350,000 members next year from its national account as well as another 300,000 from smaller group accounts.

    “The pricing we put in place for 2009 turned out to not really be what we needed to achieve the results and margins that we had historically been delivering,” said chairman and CEO Ron Williams. “We view 2010 as a repositioning year, a year that does not fully reflect the earnings potential of our business. Our pricing actions should have a noticeable effect beginning in the first quarter of 2010, with additional financial impact realized during the remaining three quarters of the year.”

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/12/04/aetna-forcing-600000-plus_n_380130.html

    LET THEM EAT CAKE (before they pick up their pitchforks)! BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Fritz Kabongo MD.

    • Dr. Kaplan December 6, 2009 at 1:02 pm

      Fritz, The Pie Man loves your first line! Those who ignore the pie are condemned to repeat it.

        This is profound and true of so much in life. For example if you do not believe that yellow cars exist, sooner or later you are going to be run over by a yellow car.
        Are you seriously suggesting that money could be the controlling factor in American medicine? Of course the financial health of doctors, lawyers and the insurance guys is important but in the end surely they are all there for the benefit of the man in the street. As we learned at med school: The customer (I mean the patient, the patient!) always comes first. Over here a lot of us are looking forward to the promised land of Obamagate medicine because it’s more like our NHS and many of us tend to believe we are just a little more human and humane and a little less reptilian than you guys. Sorry about that but it’s true – at least we think so. After all, losing an Empire is one thing, but ceding moral authority – well that’s something else isn’t it?

        Now the way I see it is that the medical insurance industry in the USA might have every reason to be nervous but your lawyers are totally safe because the President is a lawyer and it would be wrong, immoral and treacherous of him to hit his colleagues and many of his supporters where it hurts most – in the pocket. Besides which, major legal reforms would deprive us of a lot of entertainment. We love reading about someone suing a restaurant for $19.29 zillion because the coffee they spilled on themselves was too hot. Thereafter restaurants have to put risk-managing temperature ‘regulators’ on their percolators and everyone has to settle for lukewarm coffee. This is how America works and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

        Love hearing from the land of the free and home of the brave. Please write again. You can guest on my site whenever you want! Love your Constitution! Love the First Amendment! (truly do) And as for In God we Trust on every banknote. Nobody can compete with that – ever. We surrender – again!

  10. Andy Lewis December 6, 2009 at 12:15 pm

    Indeed we do inhabit different paeadigms – but I find it difficult to understand what consistent paradigm you adopt.

    I guess we have said everything. My major point was that it is hubristic to conclude that the result of the evidence sessions was that the government would support homeopathy. A point that you have not really addressed.

    I would read the book if I thought it could have any bearing on the question in hand – does homeopathy have specific effects. No about of philosophical masturbation will answer that question – it is the obfuscation I discussed originally.

    Of course I shall end what might appear to be a facetious note: but the book I suggest you read is Ramsden “A-Level Chemistry Combined Set”. When we see homeopathic evidence included in such a text, maybe you will have a point.

  11. Alex Begg December 6, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    Hi Dr Kaplan.

    The evidence check is an interesting review. Regardless of the studies theres still something crucial missing. Its the pure-physical-evidence of seeing chronic mental illness and knowing that there is no hope for those people with “evidence based medicine”.

    I’ve worked for a year in a mental hospital and all the staff on the ward will tell you the same thing. Nothing ever changes with the patients – their not getting better with the “evidence based medicine” they are given. Their simply tranquillised, lobotomised, given ECTs, more drugs and what? They go back to the beginning with the same emotional states, the same physical problems, without real change.

    You cannot treat a mental state with drugs.

    Yet this is where we are at because of the Newtonian model because it treats the mind and brain as the same thing right? The mind can be reduced to brain chemistry, structural components and the physical, and treating and conditioned accordingly. Well that’s the theory, but it doesn’t actually work in practice otherwise there would be a genuine observable improvement in a patients behaviour. Now some of the drugs I’ve seen given to the patients will make them go to sleep. They will be sedated.

    But when they wake up are they genuinely getting better?
    No. They return to normal which is full of mental problems.

    Back to my original point. There seems to be such a focus on this “evidence check”. There is this focus on evidence based medicine as if it holds some precious key to healing. From what I’ve seen – read – heard, lived – there is nothing precious or healing about “evidence based drugs” which are used in psychiatry.

    • Dr. Kaplan December 6, 2009 at 10:19 pm

      Hi Alex,
      Interesting feedback from the psychiatry wards. The interesting thing about psychiatry is that most of the meds they use don’t even have the blessing of Evidence Based Medicine! Of course some patients do need to be sedated and the anti-psychiatry movement (started by R.D.Laing) was far too fundamentalist for my liking. Still, good work has been undertaken in treating severe mental illness without drugs at places such as the Arbours Crisis Centre.

      You allude to a fundamental problem with EBM; it tends to separate the practitioner from the tool s/he is using. This means that relationship, one of the most powerful medicines there is, is excluded from the process. In psychotherapy it is vital but its power is often overlooked in physical medicine. What people like Andy are missing entirely is that even if (and I don’t think this is true) the patients seeing homeopathic doctors are only getting better because they believe the medicine is going to work because the doctor also believes it works and it does work – this is still fascinating medicine. Thus it should be carefully investigated rather than the jeering, the insults, the ad hominem attacks on homeopaths and the attempts to have it suppressed.

      Psychiatry has a lot of problems at the moment as this recently published book suggests. And just read the review to see how the author has been treated! Reminds me of the ad hominem attacks on homeopaths.

  12. Dana Ullman, MPH December 6, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    It is always interesting how skeptics totally ignore the important statistical issues of “internal validity” and “external validity.” They ONLY look at how “well-designed” or “well-conducted” the clinical trials evaluating homeopathy were…they do not look at the fact that many of these trials had NO external validity.

    One of the 8 trials evaluated by Shang was a large trial using Thyroidium 30C in the treatment of weight-loss. Although this trial was randomized and double-blind, I do not know a single homeopath who uses this medicine for this indication. GIGO!

    Shang also choose to omit one large trial of poly-arthritis because they said that there was no comparable trial testing conventional drugs. What a lie! If this trial had a negative result, you KNOW that they would have found such a trial. “How convenient” it was for them to throw out a study.

    These skeptics go “brain dead” when evaluating homeopathy, and their double-standard is palpable, obvious, and insidious, and yet, ironically, they seek defend “good science” but do not seem to really understand what good science really is.

    • Dr. Kaplan December 6, 2009 at 10:40 pm

      Hi Dana,
      Thanks for that information. The omission of the poly-arthritis trial comes a bit of a shock to me. I do think that homeopathy is an affront to these people, so they naturally tend to want to suppress anything that doesn’t support what they have already decided is true. It also doesn’t matter how many good trials we do come up with, they will never accept something they already know does not work – because in their minds it cannot work. There is simply no help for those whose minds are made up and who don’t want to be confused by facts.

  13. paul December 6, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Hi DR Kaplan,

    I admire your patience in dealing with Mr Lewis, one of the main apostles in the movement of new scientism.
    I am one of those who he despises most avidly, a lay homeopath, or NMQP. I acknowledge that there is a great deal of nonsense put forward in the name of homeopathy and it is unfortunate that this then denigrates the practice as a whole.
    As a NMQP I rely on patients paying me for treatment. If my treatments don’t succeed then my business suffers. I have also worked within the NHS as a nurse for over 20yrs and still do on occasions when there is a need to pay the mortgage. It is also worth noting that when taking on patients it is made clear that they are not taking an easy path there are no quick fixes. And do they stay and see the treatments through? Yes they do and not only that they then go on to pass their good news onto others.
    Mr Lewis goes on about evidence yet quite clearly evidence takes many forms. So the plural of anecdote is not evidence? Try telling the countless number of people who have benefitted from this so called evidence free treatment when so called evidence based medicine has failed them. TEETH tried everything else try homeopathy. How many patients are there who turn to homeopathy in desperation? Most of the people i and my colleagues treat fall into that category. And interestingly they tend to make the best patients. Why are the interventions that I and others use so sucessful when others have failed? Surely if someone is open to the effects of placebo it should come through whatever treatment they use. Mr Lewis clings to the notion of RCT’s beimng the only relevant form of evidence as it is suits is understanding of how the world works. Lets face it if it really comes down to it there is no such thing as an “objective view”. Wasn’t that already shown by science? Clinging to arguments about implausibility etc show that his though processes have not yet grown out of their adolecent need to provide emotional stability in what is a really quite scary world where ultimatley all we really know is that we are all going to die. Yes Andy much as we like to pretend other wise living is still 100% fatal no matter what your evidence based medicine does.

    Phew that feels better.

    And Brian, i agree with your notion of homeopaths and DRs working together. We are trying to approach GP surgeries but alas even though we are not asking for any funds our requests for dialogue tend to meet with what I shall call a Mr Lewis response. I wonder if in this age of internet speak it would be appropriate to describe all responses that are narrow minded and repetive as “He’s just giving a Mr Lewis”?

    Best wishes.

    Please let me know if you are ever able to organise an open debate as i would dearly love to attend.

    • Dr. Kaplan December 7, 2009 at 11:06 am

      Hi Paul,
      Yes, I’ll let you know when someone invites me to be in a debate. I’ve made the offer enough times.

  14. Ruth December 6, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    Doc,

    Do you think that the snippet I posted about Aetna is an exception? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Tell me something: If you earned over $32MILLION last year and much of it was from the benefit of stock options, would you act in a socially responsible way so that the stock drops lower and you get fired?

    http://www.forbes.com/lists/2006/12/NBHZ.html

    Before you say “Yes!”, with enthusiasm, please give me some names of people who relinquished accretion of power for altruism. Money, after all, equates with power. Just say “YES!”.

    And speaking of politics, do people not understand that USA-USA election campaigns are only as successful as the size of the war chests? And speaking of war chests, who do you think provides almost all campaign financing? Corporations. Oh…and what is that called? Socialism? BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Next Mensa question: How much money did the health care lobby throw at opposing the nonsense ‘promise’ of reform ‘for the good of patients’? $500 million, give or take a few million. Giggle it….I dare you to confirm my mastery of understatement. BWAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Doc, is it possible that people are so naive that they still believe ‘we, the people’ is more important than ‘we, the corporations’? Do they truly believe that taxpayer interests are placed ahead of corporate lobbies? No matter who is up for high office, an inability to cowtow to these interests is about the easiest way to insure an early exit, the biggest fear of all politicians. Winning elections is the name of the game. Bambam is no dummy, that is for sure. Deceiver…yes, dummy….no! These are the credentials needed for high office. Yo, Tony and Gordon, of course you know this, right?!!!!!

    History shows us that the outcome of oppression is always ugly, but trends always last longer than expected (thanks, Isaac Newton). So what are we to do?

    Haiku:

    In chess
    You win
    If you kill more.

    Become a master of violence……cornerstone of civilization.
    You too, human! Us too…vulgar, arrogant, selfish goldfish!
    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    Provocative Therapy demands that a mirror be placed directly in front of the issue. You did this with the pie, which nobody is prepared to even remotely tackle with credible assertion, and with brass balls!
    Without a reality check of reality, we are in shit….but we also know that delusion trumps reality. What shall it be, eh? Your move…..

    Haiku:

    If you forget the future
    You lose
    The present.

    ***********************************************************

    One final Haiku, in case any of us lose our way during this amazingly silly, short journey,…one where our dedication to tomorrow is to truly build today. Procrastination is not an option for the few who refuse to be suckers…the sovereign few, the honorable few…the exceptions:

    Health
    Of body, spirit and mind…
    Is Wealth.

    Warmly,
    Fritz Kabongo MD

    • Dr. Kaplan December 7, 2009 at 11:11 am

      Yes Fritz,
      I love the fact that you love Provocative Therapy so much! Go for it. Give us more of it and more haikus. Yes, the pie was a mirror, a mirror made by the most EBM-believers around. However when those who would use EBM exclusively to attack CAM saw their reflections in it they started to say mad things like the pie included treatments that were ‘hardly ever used’ when the BMJ clearly states it refers to ‘commonly used’ treatments. In fact the responses to the pie are quite a lot funnier than the pie itself. The Pie Man has had a lot of fun but has actually become quite compassionate to his victims recently.

  15. Oliver Dowding December 6, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    May I just add one other comment, which adds more strength to the case in support of homoeopathy than any other.

    Over 15 years I kept over 500 dairy animals at any one time, and treated over 95% of all their ailments with homoeopathy The success rate was very high, and I’m fairly certain that none of those animals are pathogenic liars, or had any idea what treatment they were receiving, and in the case of the remedies applied via the water that they drank, had no idea they were even having any treatment.

    Given the huge number of complications, the worst resulting in death, that result from pharmaceutical “solutions”, and if the animals could truly speak, I have a fairly good idea as to which option they would plumped for.

    • Dr. Kaplan December 7, 2009 at 11:14 am

      Oliver thanks a lot for that,
      I consider what you have written here to be very important. Many observers find this sort of report (whether double blind or not) to be the most convincing evidence for homeopathy. I spent a day with Chris Day once and he saw over 100 animals and used homeopathy all the way. Totally inspiring!

  16. Andy Lewis December 7, 2009 at 12:02 am

    Nice try Dana – yet more obfuscation. Of course, your fine words do nothing to change the fact that there is no good evidence for homeopathy.

    It is also interesting to note that Dana insists on using the poly-arthritis gambit. Perhaps, he would like to name the matching trial that met the preconditions of Shang et al that has been ‘ignored’?

    Dana is at the rather more obnoxious end of the homeopathy spectrum who imputes fraud or bad faith when trying to critique studies. His continual defamation of Darwin – saying he was too scared to come out in favour of homeopathy – is some of the most shameful propaganda pushed out of the little world of homeopathy.

  17. Dana Ullman, MPH December 7, 2009 at 2:41 am

    Shang and team acknowledged that the study testing homeopathic medicines in the treatment of people with polyarthritis was “large” (170 patients) and “high quality”.

    If the homeopathic study of the treatment of people with polyarthritis is the ONLY trial of this condition, then, serious scientists and physicians should immediately embrace homeopathy as the only proven effective treatment of this condition. But, do this say that? NO!

    Skeptics are not scientists…they are hyper-denialists!

  18. Andy Lewis December 7, 2009 at 9:40 am

    “You allude to a fundamental problem with EBM; it tends to separate the practitioner from the tool s/he is using. This means that relationship, one of the most powerful medicines there is, is excluded from the process”

    This is absurd.

    Are you seriously saying that doctors do not value the relationship they have with their patients as part of the therapeutic process? This is the sort of nonsense we see on the loonier end of alt med sites – and it is quite bizarre to see it here.

    What you object to of course, is that when trials try to separate out the effects of the relationship (i.e. any placebo effect) from the specific actions of the pills, the pills show they add nothing to the interaction. Thus, if you want to go beyond ‘tea and sympathy’ you have try other things than magic sugar pills.

    You then try a straw man:

    “What people like Andy are missing entirely is that even if (and I don’t think this is true) the patients seeing homeopathic doctors are only getting better because they believe the medicine is going to work because the doctor also believes it works and it does work – this is still fascinating medicine.”

    Actually, I think the placebo effect is overrated. I would think that regression to the mean and the natural progression of disease is a much bigger factor. By all means we should investigate the ‘fascinating’ medicine of the placebo effect, but in doing so you should drop the pretence that the pills are playing any role. Sceptics of me do not ‘jeer’ at the placebo effect, we jeer at people who believe that homeopathy is anything more than sugar pills.

    I am surprise, Brian, that you stoop to straw men in your arguments. Things were going better than that.

    Talking of the master of straw men, welcome Dana.

    He accuses Shang of lying – this is typical of Dana’s approach. Perhaps he would like to substantiate this by showing that Shang could have included a matching trial for the homeopathy poly-arthritis trial that met the stated inclusion criteria of the review?

    • Dr. Kaplan December 7, 2009 at 11:28 am

      Andy,

      I invited you to read a learned text by a psychiatrist, doctor (who used homeopathy) and philosopher of science (and invited you to suggest a book I should read) in order that our dialogue might rise a little. You came back with a self-admittedly facetious remark (that’s fine I like both humour and even attempted humour) that I should read an A-level chemistry text. Actually I got a First for chemistry at university. I say this not to boast, but to point out that I probably know a tad more about chemistry than you know about philosophy of science.

      Just look at you wonderful comment made in an earlier comment in response to my suggestion:

      “I would read the book if I thought it could have any bearing on the question in hand – does homeopathy have specific effects. No about of philosophical masturbation will answer that question – it is the obfuscation I discussed originally.”

      If I had to draw a cartoon caricature of a proponent of Naive Realism in this debate, I could not have put more appropriate words in his mouth. That was one of Ledermann’s points: Doctors who think philosophy is irrelevant are unconsciously practising the philosophy of Naive Realism! So this is why I welcome your comments here. I’m a vigorous supporter of liberal democracy (note the lower case please) and still believe in one man vote and the protection of minorities. Winston Churchill was funny but probably wrong when he said: “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”

  19. Sean Haffey December 7, 2009 at 11:06 am
  20. Iain Nicol December 7, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Comments by Andy Lewis (4 December) typify those people who deny anything that has not been verified and sanctioned by the scientific community.

    I comment, not as a Homeopath but as a father who’s family has been homeopathically treated over the last five years more successfully than the previous ten years by GPs.

    As a non-practitioner in homeopathy and medicine, I fully anticipte any comments I make to be ignored or denied as worthless by the scientific observers and contributors, but I offer them anyway as someone who didn’t come to homeopathy with any preconceived ideas or ‘political’ baggage, but just a desire to find cures that work. I have yet to be disappointed by homeopathy.

    As regard the often claimed placebo effect of homeopathic treatments. Even if this does exist, it has to be better than pumping the body full of antibiotics as a failsafe cure.

    The medical profession has long dismissed the fact they they are not treating inanimate objects and could learn so much from the homeopathic tradition of treating the person and the symptom as part of immediate and long term treatment.

    Celia Walden’s recent comments on GMTV typify most as she said “I need something that works in the next fifteen minutes”. With that kind of attitude, she will be in good company with the average GP.

    • Dr. Kaplan December 7, 2009 at 10:37 pm

      Hi Iain,
      Thanks for that. Sceptics tend to discard what you say as ‘anecdotal evidence’ which they don’t consider evidence at all. However when you hear thousands of similar stories
      it certainly does feel like evidence to a homeopathic doctor or homeopathic vet.

  21. Sean Haffey December 7, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Breaking News! Government backs NHS Homeopathy! Despite Lack of Supporting Evidence!

    • Dr. Kaplan December 7, 2009 at 10:50 pm

      🙂 I like that Sean. I really do because it espouses my huge belief and confidence in Provocative Therapy, the cutting edge in the use of Reverse Psychology and Humour in psychotherapy. Your post, unlike any of your angry co-detractors of homeopathy had an effect on me. It made me laugh. The fact that we think there is evidence and that I’ve pretty much shown than most of orthodox medicine is far from evidence based is almost besides the point! As the great Mark Twain aptly wrote in The Mysterious Stranger: ‘Against the assault of humor nothing can stand’ My compliments then. I don’t agree with you but you are a worthy opponent in this debate.

  22. David T H Williams December 8, 2009 at 12:34 pm

    It is good, Brian, to see your smile on this my first visit to your blog/website.
    Yes, the Jabberwocky has still to be slain but the Frumious Bandersnatch and not a few Slithy Toves are in our midst ready to consume what remains of the Pobbles toes. It will pay to keep Aunt Jobinska’s wrapper of scarlet flannel about our noses.

    my best to you

    David

    • Dr. Kaplan December 8, 2009 at 4:47 pm

      Thank you David,

      I’m delighted that you obviously enjoy Lewis Carroll as much as I do.
      I have very much enjoyed reading your comment and another humorous one by an opponent in the debate. This is the sort of dialogue I love here. Anyone is welcome to be as provocative as they want on this site as long as they obey the holy rules of the internet and preferably The Golden Rule of Provocative Therapy

        Only ever therapeutically provoke when you have affection in your heart and a twinkle in your eye.


      Brian.

  23. Dr Samuel McBride December 10, 2009 at 2:26 am

    Brian, Tamiflu lacks adequate evidence to justify its recent widescale use for suspected H1N1 flu.
    (See the medical and general press for yesterday). Most patients receiving it didn’t even have H1N1 flu, some were worse off from taking
    Tamiflu. Where’s Primum Non Nocere? And many patients got this useless drug on the say so of non-doctors.
    How many millions were thus wasted? We are stridently reminded of the financial waste of homeopathic prescribing of non-proven treatments on the NHS.
    I just wish the inconsistency of the Ernst-Goldacre-Thallon
    axis were highlighted. These evidence-based activists ought to deplore the DoH’s flagrant flushing of
    Precious cash on non-proven nostrums -like Tamiflu.
    But I’m not holding my breath for an outbreak of such consistency or probity

    • Dr. Kaplan December 10, 2009 at 12:23 pm

      Hi Dr McBride,
      Thanks for that. I wouldn’t hold my breath either. This only involved (allegedly) £500million of the taxpayer’s money! Just because it’s a little more more than the £12million spent on NHS
      homeopathic prescriptions
      spent between 2005 and 2008 does not necessarily mean it was a waste of money. After all the intention was good, wasn’t it? I’ve written about NHS budgets, cost effectiveness and homeopathy here. Look at research done by a patient of mine done referred to in that article.
      If what is being alleged about Tamiflu being ineffective is correct this is highly unfortunate for the government, NHS and the taxpayer and almost disappointing for the makers of Tamiflu.

  24. DR.MANPREET S BINDRA January 2, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Congrats all Hahnemannians all over UK from Indian Hahnemannians. I congratulate you all over this victory and grand success of struggle.

    Dr.Manpreet S Bindra
    BHMS DIHom (London)
    Consultant Homoeopath
    Ludhiana (Punjab, INDIA)

  25. L.H. Olavius February 2, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    When considering how many people seeking homeopathic treatment in the UK each year, it would only be fair if the NHS increased the amount spent.

    Homeopathy should be available for everyone – not just those who can afford to pay out of their own pockets.

    After all, they are taxpayers too.

    • Dr. Kaplan February 3, 2010 at 11:06 am

      @ L.H. Olavius: This is exactly the point. My argument for homeopathy has consistently been built on a litertarian platform. A minority of taxpayers in the UK want homeopathy. Most of the majority who don’t particular want it – don’t care if others get it. A small vindictive minority of them feel it is an affront to their scientismic vision of the universe and want it denied to those that do want it and benefit from it. In other words they choose to bully the minority who want homeopathy. This is almost a definition of anti-democratic behaviour.

  26. Mike February 2, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    Dr Kaplan:
    “Sceptics tend to discard what you say as ‘anecdotal evidence’ which they don’t consider evidence at all. However when you hear thousands of similar stories
    it certainly does feel like evidence to a homeopathic doctor or homeopathic vet.”
    I think you can say pretty much the same thing for faith healing. Does this mean that it works too?

    • Dr. Kaplan February 3, 2010 at 11:14 am

      @ Mike: If thousands of my patients reported remarkable benefits from seeing a faith healer and another patient heard about him/her and asked if s/he was worth trying. my approach would be to do what was medically necessary and then tell the patient what I had heard about the faith healer. If a GP says to a patient: “I don’t personally believe in homeopathy because I believe it lacks evidence of efficacy, but many families in this country (including the Royal Family) have used it over many generations, it is used extensively all over the world and by millions in India and there are homeopathic vets in England and all over the world who use it on animals) that would be fair enough.

  27. Dr. S. K. Mamgain March 19, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Dear Dr. Brian Kaplan,
    I happen to come across your article ‘The Battle of British Homoeopathy’ in the journal Homoeopathic Heritage. Your fear is quite justified. I believe Homoeopathy is a truth and truth is universal. It never dies. But ‘Veda’ says the truth is hidden by gold. You know gold is money or riches. The greed for riches is in human nature. Many people forego their honesty and loyalty for a few bucks. Those who jeer and ridicule Homoeopathy have their vested interests; such people are always against it, since the time of Hahnemann. Such people will always keep their eyes closed to the truth. They will never attempt to try to find out the truth, such people are extremely prejudiced people.
    For your information I have prepared documentary videos of some of my cases of different kinds including cancer cases out of my numerous cases treated so far during my practice of forty years, to show the efficacy of the minute doses of Homoeopathic medicines. Which are available on the site http://www.homoeopathy-milddose.com along with numerous case reports, I don’t think any of such lot will get convinced by my such effort. I am keeping all the records well maintained.
    I am finding results and as such studying my materia medica regularly. So that I may become able to help the sick proficiently.
    You are requested to ask people visit my site to see the results of the minute doses which the critics of homoeopathy term them as placebo effect.
    Dr. Mamgain

    • Dr. Kaplan March 21, 2010 at 4:23 am

      Dear Dr Mamgain, Thanks for this note. I am well aware of the wonderful work homeopathic doctors do in India in spite of a huge workload. Thanks for your comments here. May I suggest that if you would like readers to note your website, you make a comment on the most recent of my posts (‘Why that parliamentary report was disingenuous’) because that one is on the front page of my website whereas this post was made some time ago.
      Kind regards,
      Dr Brian Kaplan

  28. DR.GANESH NIGAM March 22, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    HI Brian.
    I enjoyed your wordly duel with Andy.why not invite Andy to put himself for prooving of one of homoeopathic medicine,offcourse according to protocols laid down in organnon of medicine .he’ll have answer himself.

    DR.GANESH NIGAM
    INDIA

  29. Paul March 29, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    Dr Kaplan, I have read all of this blog and found it very interesting. I came to it via an article on homoeopathy on the website run by Andy Lewis (Quakometer) which I found quite disappointing because it is little more than a one-sided diatribe. Searching for other stuff by him (as I found it hard to believe that he was so blinkered) I came across your site and this blog. Your cool, reasoned and evidential approach was a welcome relief from the desperate posturing of Mr Lewis’s comments. Though I have to give him full marks for his bravery in coming out with all that stuff he so dearly believes in. I don’t think he’s at all typical of genuine scientists; all the ones I know are reasonable, open-minded types even if they don’t agree on some topic.

    I must admit I don’t know much at all about homoeopathy, but having benefited from some very successful homoeopathic treatments where allopathy has failed me, I’m inclined to recommend it to others who have gone off the scale within which drug-based medicine can help. Therefore I’m really glad that the Health Minister made the decision he did. ‘Having a choice’ is what the government says it wants for us; this decision backs that position – and I applaud it. May the day NEVER come when self-appointed inquisitors once again rule the world!

    • Dr. Kaplan March 30, 2010 at 1:40 am

      Dear Paul, Thanks for your kind words. We still have to see what the government does with this report of course. Glad to see that you have some faith in the powers that be but faith is surely hope based on no evidence!

Comments are closed.