An article in Wednesday’s Guardian by Sarah Boseley tells a truly disgusting tale of lobbying for homeopathy.
Draft guidance for the website NHS [National Health Service] Choices warning that there is no evidence that homeopathy works was suppressed by officials following lobbying by a charity set up by the Prince of Wales.
Homeopathy, which involves the use of remedies so heavily diluted with water that they no longer contain any active substance, is “rubbish”, said chief medical officer Sally Davies in January to the House of Commons science and technology committee. She added that she was “perpetually surprised” that homeopathy was available in some places on the NHS.
But the government’s NHS Choices website, which is intended to offer evidence-based information and advice to the public on treatments, does not reflect her view. A draft page that spelled out the scientific implausibility of homeopathic remedies was neutered by Department of Health officials. It is now uncritical, with just links to reports on the lack of evidence.
Lobbying by opponents, and the response from DH officials who did not want to take on Prince Charles’s now defunct Foundation for Integrated Medicine and other supporters of homeopathy, is revealed in correspondence from the department discussing the new guidance. It was released under the Freedom of Information Act to Prof David Colquhoun of University College London, a Fellow of the Royal Society and prominent science blogger.
There is no evidence that Prince Charles was involved personally in the lobbying. . .
NHS Choices has offered information on homeopathy since at least 2007, but it has been heavily criticised for its failure to state that there is no proof that homeopathy has anything other than a placebo effect on patients.
The page was taken down early in 2011, pending what a statement on the site said would be “a review by the Department of Health policy team responsible for complementary and alternative medicines”. But critics were disappointed by the page that went up in October 2012, which still does not raise any issues about effectiveness.
David Mattin’s original draft (he’s now left the National Health Service) stated strongly that there was no evidence that homeopathic remedies were better than placebos, and that “if the principles of homeopathry were true it would violate all the existing theories of science that we make use of today; not just our theory of medicine, but also chemistry, biology, and physics.” Immediately, Prince Charles’s lobby, the Prince’s Foundation for Integrated Health (which disbanded in 2010 after financial malfeasance on the part of officials), as well as the Complementary and Natural Healthcare Council (Woo Central), raised objections, and Mattin’s draft was altered by officials of Britain’s Depatment of Health (DH).
The Guardian report gives the sordid details, and the DH did not respond to a request for comment.
This is worse than creationists watering down the teaching of endorsement, for homeopathy causes deaths. One of my European friends had cancer of the salivary glands, which was treated homeopathically (unsuccessfully, of course), resulting in the progression of cancer to a more serious stage. It is the obligation of NHS choices to point out that homeopathy has no scientific basis and is no better than placebos. Anything other than a full statement of these facts is irresponsible and, in fact, is complicit in murder.