Campaigners in the U.K. are urging lawmakers to defund homeopathic treatments that are part of the national health care system. The campaign comes in the aftermath of a study by Australian researchers that gave homeopathic medicine poor marks in effectiveness in treating various ailments.
Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council recently looked at 176 trials of homeopathy used for the treatment of 68 health conditions to get a better understanding of how the treatment worked under various conditions. The use of homeopathy was evaluated for its use in treating such conditions as rheumatoid arthritis, radiodermatitis, inflammation of the mouth and HIV infection.
Their conclusion? Homeopathy is essentially a "therapeutic dead end."
The harshly worded report, which concluded that “there was no reliable evidence from research in humans that homeopathy was effective for treating the range of health conditions considered," has led many to wonder whether the 5 million pounds (roughly $7 million U.S.) that the U.K. currently spends on homeopathic treatments would be better spent elsewhere.
At present, the U.K.'s national health care system funds homeopathic treatments in two hospitals and a number of general practitioner practices, primarily in London.
The British Homeopathic Association responded to the report and the defunding campaign by pointing out that the very nature of homeopathy is to treat an individual as a whole, not illness by illness. In other words, it may not be as simple as looking at data from one trial to determine the overall effectiveness of the method.
But shouldn't it be? That's the question British officials will soon attempt to answer.
Professor Paul Glasziou, who chaired the report, wrote a blog about it in the British Medical Journal, concluding that homeopathy had "no discernible convincing effects."
As noted in the report, "People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness.”