The MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) are asking for the public’s view on homeopathy, and specifically on the labelling of homeopathic remedies.
The Nightingale Collaboration has produced an official response to the “Review of Medicines Act 1968: informal consultation on issues relating to the PLR regime and homeopathy” [PDF], but I thought I’d join the party and submit by own message too.
If you want to send your own thoughts, the email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. But you’ll need to be quick as the deadline is tomorrow, 18th February 2011.
[Many thanks to @dellybean for proof reading my hurried and typo strewn response!]
I understand that you are collecting the public’s views on homeopathy and how it should be labelled.
My main concern is that even though homeopathy is safe (as clearly, “there’s nothing in it“), the labelling approved by the MHRA legitimises it.
As we have recently seen, homeopaths fully believe that these inert remedies can cure and/or prevent disease.
We have seen homeopaths (via BBC Scotland) recommend that parents drop the MMR vaccine in favour of homeopathic preparations.
Imagine parents who feel that their colds get better faster due to a homeopathic remedy then only to make other health decisions by extrapolating from this. Imagine these parents thinking: “We’re worried about all the scare stories about MMR, we’re going to immunise our child using homeopathy instead”.
We have also seen (again, via the BBC) pharmacies recommending remedies to protect against malaria. A placebo is not going to protect a person from a parasite!
Both these situations could lead to deaths.
As Homeopathic institutions are failing to regulate their members and refuse to condemn such actions, I believe it is up to the MHRA to protect the public.
By not being clearly and honestly labelled, the uninformed public could be making dangerous decisions about their healthcare.
I believe that the MHRA should enforce clear labelling; labelling that can explain, in plain English, the truth that there is absolutely no evidence that homeopathic remedies work beyond a placebo effect.
In particular, remedies for anything more severe than a cold or a sore throat should be made illegal; children cannot protect themselves from homeopaths who have persuaded parents to forgo vaccination in favour of homeopathy. They have to rely on organisations such as the MHRA.
Please bear in mind the severe implications of showing the public your approval of such therapies. It’s dangerously misleading and could cost lives. It is up to the MHRA to stop this from happening.