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Universal Condemnation for The Lancet’s Stance on Homeopathy

Posted by Dr.Mukhtar Ahmad on May 31, 2008


Collected for public awareness…

Scientists and experts from around the world are condemning the Swiss evaluation of homeopathy trials and The Lancet medical journal for publishing such a poor quality report on 26 August (1). Leading homeopaths and researchers from the USA, India, Greece, Canada, Italy, Ireland, Norway, Germany and the UK, many of them medically qualified, are calling for an end to this kind of attack on homeopathy.

At least six previous similar evaluations of homeopathy trials have all shown an effect over and above placebo. One of these studies was published by the European Commission.

The report professes to be based on 110 homeopathy studies, but in the end selected only 8 studies to draw the conclusion that homeopathy is no better than placebo. The article admits that some high quality studies showed that homeopathy works, but these were ruled out.

“Out of the millions of trials in conventional medicine, their primary outcome relies on the comparison of ridiculously small numbers – 8 trials of homeopathy and 6 trials of conventional medicine.” says Dr. Joyce Frye, from the University of Pennsylvania.

Prof. Chaturbhuja Nayak, Director of the India Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy, challenges the study: “It conflicts with the previous meta-analyses published in the same journal in the years 1994 and 1997 where homeopathy was proved to be effective. It seems that the authors have begun their work with a bias.”

Medical doctors agree: Dr. Paolo Bellavite, professor of General Pathology, University of Verona and Dr. Giuseppina Pitari, professor of Biochemistry, University of L’Aquila, went further: “A prejudice against homeopathy is shown by the authors. As a matter of fact, there is much data to support the evidence of a physical and chemical plausibility of homeopathy along with a strong scientific consistency but this evidence has been ignored.”

The Guernsey branch of the British Medical Association (BMA) has defended the inclusion of homeopathy in some of its doctors’ services.

Mikel Aickin PhD, Research Professor at the University of Arizona commented: “The Lancet article appears to be part of a recent trend, in which medical journals are publishing articles of exceedingly low quality to justify attacks on controversial therapies.”

The Lancet’s Senior Editor, Zoë Mullan, admits an inherent conflict on the part of the authors: “Prof Eggers stated at the outset that he expected to find that homeopathy had no effect other than that of placebo. His “conflict” was therefore transparent. We saw this as sufficient”.

The international list of experts in homeopathy below, as well as their professional bodies, are calling for and end to such unjustified attacks on homeopathy.

—-

References

1. Shang et al . Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? Lancet 2005;366 (9487):726-733

For the full critique of, “Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects?” by leading UK researchers in this field, Kate Chatfield and Clare Relton, see the following website:

www.homeopathy-soh.org

(insert own website as above)

For further information please contact:

Society of Homeopaths

Melanie Oxley RSHom – Communications Manager 0845 450 6611 societyofhomeopaths@yahoo.co.uk

Kate Chatfield RSHom – Researcher, University of Central Lancashire 01772 893697 kchatfield@uclan.ac.uk

Clare Relton RSHom – Researcher, ScHARR, University of Sheffield 0114 22 20752  c.relton@sheffield.ac.uk

Zoe Mullan – Editor, The Lancet, 0207 424 4910

editorial@lancet.com

(insert own national contacts as above)

International contacts:

Country, name & position, phone number, email address

Germany: Carl Classen, board member, VKHD (Verband klassischer Homöopathen Deutschlands), 0049-721-463235

Canada: Cynthia Shephard cashepard@pacificcoast.net

USA: Peter Gold peter_gold@goldorluk.com

 

Shang A, Huwiler-Müntener K, Nartey L, Jüni P, Dörig S, Sterne JAC, Pewsner D, Egger M. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and allopathy. Lancet 2005; 366: 726-32. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo controlled trials of homeopathy and allopathy. The Lancet, Vol 366, 27 August 2005.

1. Article condemned universally

2. Six previous meta-analysis positive

3. Inappropriate methodology

4. Positive results were ignored

5. Researchers and editor biased

6. Homeopathy works

7. Together homeopaths and doctors can help more patients

8. Unrevealed facts

1. Article condemned

a) Scientists and experts from around the world have condemned the article due to poor methodology.

Examples of renowned researchers who have severely criticized the Lancet-article:

Dr. Joyce Frye, University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Iris Bell, University of Arizona

Dr. Mikel Aickin, Research Professor, University of Arizona

Dr. Rustum Roy, Material Scientist, Penn State University

Dr. Paolo Bellavite, Professor of General Pathology, University of Verona

Dr. Giuseppina Pitari, Professor of Biochemistry, University of L’Aquila

Dr. med. Helmut Kiene, MD, Institute for Applied Epistemology and Medical Methodology, Bad Krozingen/Freiburg

Dr. med. Gunver S. Kienle, MD, Institute for Applied Epistemology and Medical Methodology, Bad Krozingen/Freiburg

Tido von Schön-Angerer, MD, Institute for Applied Epistemology and Medical Methodology, Bad Krozingen/Freiburg

2. Six previous meta-analysis positive

a) 6 previous meta-analysis of homeopathy trials have all shown an effect over and above placebo.1-6 One of these studies was published by the European Commission.3

3. Inappropriate methodology

a) The report professes to be based on 110 homeopathy studies, but the authors selected only 8 studies to draw the conclusion that homeopathy is no better than placebo.

b) The report looked at only randomised placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy, which are widely considered to be inappropriate for testing homeopathy. They may be suitable for conventional medicine, but not for testing homeopathy. Homeopathy does not treat diseases, but whole human beings. Homeopathic medicines are individually prescribed. Patients suffering from the same disease, may therefore need different remedies. Even medical doctors would not prescribe penicillin to all patients suffering from viral or bacterial infections.

c) Most of the included studies were not of high homeopathic quality bein rather tests of isopathy and complex prescribing.

d) What we need is research that takes into consideration the nature of homeopathic practice.

4. Positive results were ignored

a) Data to support evidence of the positive effects of homeopathy was ignored. The authors admittedly rueld out many trials of homeopathy that proved that it works.

b) In many conditions the effectiveness of homeopathy is supported by randomised clinical trials including asthma, fibrositis, influenza, glue ear, muscle soreness, pain, side-effects of radiotherapy, sprains and upper respiratory tract infections.1

c) You can from previously conducted RCTs draw the conclusion that highly diluted substances can have an effect upon the human organism.1-6

5. Researchers and editor biased

a) Both the authors and editor of Lancet were biased. Lancet Senior Editor, Zoë Mullan, admits an inherent conflict on the part of the authors: “Prof Eggers stated at the outset that he expected to find that homeopathy had no effect other than that of placebo. His “conflict” was therefore transparent. We saw this as sufficient”. Egger is known to be opposed to homeopathy, and the editor of the Lancet is known for his antipathy to homeopathy. The question remains why the Editors of the Lancet approved the paper for publication, despite the numerous flaws.

6. Homeopathy works

a) The popularity of homeopathy is ever increasing. The majority of patients who see homeopaths come by referral from other patients.7-13

b) 70 % of patients report positive health changes after homeopathic treatment. Most of these have already tried conventional medicine, with little or no effect.14-22

c) Homeopathy is free from serious side effects.3

d) Many medical doctors who have looked into homeopathy with open minds became homeopaths themselves. In the UK alone 5 homeopathic hospitals exist.

7. Together homeopaths and doctors can help more patients

a) No homeopath or medical doctor can claim to help every patient. Each therapy has its place in healthcare, by working hand in hand, and not against each other, we can really help our patients.

8. Unrevealed facts

a) The article published in the Lancet was only a part of a larger Swiss study, which showed that:

· patients showed greater improvement after homeopathy than conventional treatment

· patients experienced less side effects

· homeopathic treatment resulted in less hospitalization

· homeopathy was at least as cost-effective as conventional medicine

b) The Swiss homeopathic practitioners were forbidden to publish positive data from the survey.

c) Data regarding finances not published.

d) The Government appointed commission wrote in its draft report that homeopathy should continue to be included in the insurance scheme, but after pressures removed their recommendation from the final report.

References

1. Mathie, R. The research evidence base for homeopathy: a fresh assessment of the literature. Homeopathy 92: 84-91. 2003.

2. Linde K, Clausius N, Ramirez G, et al. Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials. Lancet 1997;350:834-43.

3. Report to the European Commission directorate general XII: science, research and development. Vol 1 (short version). Brussels: European Commission, 1996:16-7.

4. Linde K. Jonas WB, Melchart D, Worku F, Wagner H, Eital F. Critical Review and Meta-Analysis of Serial Agitated Dilutions in Experimental Toxicology. Human and Experimental Toxicology. 1994;13:481-492.

5. Reilly D, Taylor MA, Beattie NGM, Campbell JH, McSharry C, Aitchison TC, Carter R, Stevenson RD. Is evidence for homoeopathy reproducible? Lancet. 1994;344:1601-1606.

6. Kleijnen J, Knipschild P, Ter Riet G. Clinical trials of homoeopathy. British Medical Journal. 1991b;302:316-23[LK5].

7. Straumsheim PA. Pasientregistrering. Del 2. Pasienters vurdering av homeopatisk praksis. [Patient registration part 2.] Dynamis 1993 (2): 5-6.

8. Lærum E, Borchgrevink CF, Wiens G. [Who goes to the homeopath? Why, with which complaints and what is done?] ‘Hvem går til homøpat?’. Tidsskr Nor Lægeforen 1985; 105:2478–2482.

9. Attena F, Del Guidice N, Verrengia G, Granito C. Homeoeopathy in primary care: self-reported change in health status. Complementary Therapies in Medicine (2000), 8, 21-25.

10. Anelli M, Scheepers L, Sermeus G, Van Wassenhoven M. Homeopathy and health related Quality of Life: A survey in six European countries. Homeopathy (2002) 91, 18-21.

11. Lee ACC, Kemper KJ. Homeopathy and Naturopathy. Practice Characteristics and Pedicatric Care. Arch pediatr adloesc med/vol 154 (2000).

12. Goldstein MS, Glik D. Use of and satisfaction with homeopathy in a patient population. Alternative therapies, March 1998, vol. 4, no. 2.

13. Viksveen P, Steinsbekk A. Changes in patients visiting a homeopathic clinic in Norway from 1994 to 2004. Homeopathy (2005) 94, 222–228.

14. Steinsbekk, A. Patients’ assessments of the effectiveness of homeopathic care in Norway: A prospective observational multicentre outcome study. Homeopathy, Volume 94, Issue 1, January 2005, Pages 10-16.

15. F. Attena et al. Homeopathy in Primary Care: self reported change in health status. Complementary therapies in Medicine Vol 8 No 1. March 2000.

16. Sevar, R. Audit of outcome in 829 consecutive patients treated with homeopathic medicine. British Homeopathic Journal Vol 89 No.4. Oct 2000.

17. Güthlin C, Lange O and Walach H. Measuring the effects of acupuncture and homoeopathy in general practice: An uncontrolled prospective documentation approach. BMC Public Health 2004, 4:6.

18. Report on NHS practice-based homoeopathy project. Analysis of effectiveness and cost of homoeopathic treatment within a GP practice at St. Margaret’s Surgery, Bradford on Avon, Wilts. Elizabeth A Christie, Andrew T Ward ISBN 1 901262 006

19. Report on a Homoeopathy Project in an NHS Practice. Covering 18 month period from February 1993 to August 1994. Elizabeth A Christie, Andrew T Ward,. Reprinted February 1997.

20. Homoeopathy within the NHS. Evaluation of homoeopathic treatment of common mental health problems. 1995 – 1997. Alistair Dempster,. Rydings Hall Surgery, Brighouse, West Yorkshire. ISBN No 1901262014.

21. Andersen HE, Eldov P. Klassisk homøopati – og dens brugere. Institut for Samfundsfarmaci, Danmarks Farmaceutiske Højskole. 1995. Andersen, Helle Egebjerg. En undersøgelse af Klassisk Homøpati. Teorier, praksis og brugererfaringer. 1999. ISBN 87-987279-0-7

22. Richardson J. Quasi-randomised control trial to assess the outcome of acupuncture, osteopathy and homoeopathy using the short form 36 item health survey. Health Services Research and Evaluation Unit, The Lewisham Hospital NHS Trust. December 1996.

7 Responses to “Universal Condemnation for The Lancet’s Stance on Homeopathy”

  1. Dr. Nancy Malik said

    Homeopathy cures where Conventional Allopathic Medicine (CAM) fails

  2. James Pannozzi said

    Many thanks for an outstanding article which fights back against a series of unscientific attacks against Homeopathy which are widely reported despite research showing positive effects well beyond placebo.

    List of articles
    on Homeopathy, Homeopathic Research
    and Debate on Homeopathy:

    http://nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org/articles/introductory.jsp

    National Institue of Health government
    web site on Homeopathy:
    http://nccam.nih.gov/health/homeopathy/#a1

    Brilliant presentation by Dr. Iris Bell M.D. PhD
    in support of Homeopathy and confirming
    the accuracy and efficacy of recent reaearch:

    A full list of PEER REVIEWED papers supporting her research
    can be found at:

    http://nationalcenterforhomeopathy.org/articles/view,173

  3. Lancet should not be publishing such poorly designed trials. They can get away with it more than other medical journals since they are so popular. Does Lancet think that homeopathy is a threat to the medical profession.

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