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NHMRC Draft Information Paper: Evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating health conditions submission

ID: 
13
Personal Details
First Name: 
Marguerite
Last Name: 
Lane
Questions
Q1. Is the draft Information Paper presented and written in a manner that is easy to understand?: 

It leaves out some very important points that the reader should be aware of. For example,

  • it does not tell the reader that all plant, animal, and in vitro experiments, which would have eliminated any possible placebo effect, have been ignored.
  • It does not tell the reader that the Swiss study on the effectiveness of homeopathy was also ignored, even though it resulted in the Swiss enshrining homeopathy in their constitution as one of the government-paid alternative therapies.
  • It does not tell the reader that anyone who wanted to submit further studies had to somehow fit them into 5000 characters (not 5000 words, or 5000 pages!), so a great deal of evidence was never evaluated.
  • It doesn't tell the reader that the conclusions were drawn before the public submission period had even begun.
  • Observational studies were also ignored, even long-term multi-centre studies such as this one: Witt CM, Ludtke R, Mengler N, Willich SN. How healthy are Chronically Ill Patients after Eight years of Homeopathic Treatment? – Results from a long term observational study. BMC Public Health 2008, 8:413

Therefore, the paper is a very nice piece of marketing spin, but nothing more.

Q2. Does the draft Information Paper clearly outline how the evidence was reviewed and interpreted by the Homeopathy Working Committee?: 

It describes the hurdles that a study must overcome, although I find the Information Paper highly biased in drawing conclusions when all of the evidence has not been considered. I would like to submit to you the other studies that you missed, but for some reason you have an arbitrary limit of 5000 characters for Q3! This suggests that you're not really interested in finding all the studies.

It seems that placebo effect would be completely eliminated in animal, plant and in vitro studies. Why have you purposely omitted consideration of them? Yet your conclusion categorically states that there is no good evidence.

I would also like to point out the double standard with pharmaceutical drugs. Only a very low percentage of pharmaceutical drugs have ever been truly "independently" reviewed with randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind studies. In fact, no vaccines have been tested in this way since it is supposedly unethical to do that. The same certainly applies to the study that you rejected on the Leptospirosis epidemics in Cuba:

Bracho, Gustavo et al. Large-scale application of highly-diluted bacteria for Leptospirosis epidemic control. (access here: Large-scale application of highly-diluted bacteria for Leptospirosis epidemic control. Homeopathy, 2010; 99: 156-166. 
This was the largest-scale ever homeopathic study, involving 2.3 million patients in parts of Cuba, who were given two doses of a homeopathic remedy as a preventative to the hurricane-triggered disease. The infection rate for leptospirosis dropped to near zero, for a cost that was a small fraction of what they had been paying for vaccination.

This study deserves to have been considered, too, since it would be unethical to run it as placebo-controlled:

Marino R. Homeopathy and Collective Health: The Case of Dengue Epidemics Int J High Dilution Res. 2008; 7(25):179-185. In 2001 in Sao Paulo, Brazil, researcher Renan Marino conducted a trial using the homeopathic medicine, Eupatorium perfoliatum 30C, in a single dose, to protect residents against the development of Dengue Fever. A total of 1959 people were given the medicine and were monitored to determine what effect, if any, was produced by the medicine over a fixed period of time. When this data was collected and compared to the Dengue Fever notification rate for a similar location, it was found that the single dose of the homeopathic medicine was associated with an 81% reduction in the development of the disease.

Also, it is a significant oversight in that the Swiss evaluation of homeopathy's effectiveness was not included. It can be accessed at this web site:

http://www.karger.com/Article/Pdf/93586

Here is the citation:

 

Effectiveness, Safety and Cost-Effectiveness of Homeopathy in General Practice – Summarized Health Technology Assessment

Bornhöft G.a,d · Wolf U.b,d · Ammon K.b · Righetti M.c · Maxion- Bergemann S.d · Baumgartner S.b · Thurneysen A.b · Matthiessen P.F.a,d
aChair in Medical Theory and Complementary Medicine, University of Witten/Herdecke, Germany bInstitute for Complementary Medicine (KIKOM), Inselspital, University of Berne, Switzerland cMedical Practice, Zurich, dPanMedion Foundation, Zurich, Switzerland Forsch Komplementärmed 2006;13(suppl 2):19-29 (DOI:10.1159/000093586)

Q3. Is there additional evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for the treatment of clinical conditions in humans that needs to be considered? To be considered in public consultation any additional evidence must:: 

Aslak Steinbeck et al.Homeopathic care for the prevention of upper respiratory tract infections in children: A pragmatic, randomised, controlled trial comparing individualized homeopathic care and waiting-list controls. Complementary Therapies in Medicine Volume 13, Issue 4 , Pages 231-238, December 2005.
Belon P, Banerjee A, Karmakar SR, et al. Homeopathic remedy for arsenic toxicity? Evidence-based findings from a randomized placebo-controlled double blind human trial. Sci Total Environ. 2007 Jul 10.
Bignamini M, Saruggia M, Sansonetti G. Homeopathic Treatment of Anal Fissures using Nitricum acidum Berlin J on Res in Hom, 1, 4/5, 286-287, December 1991. Patients using Nitricum acidum 9C once daily in a double blind placebo controlled trial found subjective relief with the medicine over the placebo.
Campistranous- Lavout JL., et al. Hypertension Trial. Boletin Mexicano, 1999, 32, 42- 47. 68 people suffering from mild to moderate hypertension were enrolled in a double-blind randomised clinical trial comparing individualised homoeopathic therapy with placebo. Successful results were obtained with 82% of those using homoeopathy compared with 57% of those using placebo.
Chapman E.H., Weintraub R.J., Milburn M.A., Pirozzo T.O., Woo E., Homeopathic Treatment of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.Journal of Head Trauma and Rehabilitation, 14, 6, December 1999, 521-42. In a randomised, double blind, placebo controlled trial involving 60 subjects and a 4 month follow-up period, homeopathy provided significant improvement in parameters using measures such as “Difficulty with Situations”, “Symptoms Rating Scale” and a “Participation in Daily Activities” scale.
  Clark J., Percivall A. A., Preliminary Investigation into the Effectiveness of the Homoeopathic Remedy, Ruta graveolens, in the Treatment of Pain in Plantar Fasciitis. British Journal of Podiatry, 2000, 3, 3, 81- 85. In a randomised double-blind trial, 14 people suffering from plantar fasciitis were given Ruta graveleons 30C or placebo. Those using the Ruta reported a greater level of pain relief than those using placebo.
  Ernst E, Saradeth T, Resch KL, Complementary Treatment of Varicose Veins.. Phebology, 1990, 5, 157-163. Over a period of 24 days, the effects of a homoeopathic complex preparation and placebo on varicose veins were tested in a double-blind placebo-controlled trial.
Friese KH, Zabalotnyi DI. Homeopathy in acute rhinosinusitis : A randomised double-blind, placebo controlled study shows the efficiency and tolerability of a homeopathic combination remedy. HNO (Organ of the Deutsche Gesellschaft der Hals-, Nasen- und Ohrenärzte) 2006 December, 19.
  Haila S, Koskinen A, Tenovuo J. Effects of homeopathic treatment on salivary flow rate and subjective symptoms in patients with oral dryness: a randomized trial. Homeopathy. 2005 Jul, 94, 3, 175-81. In this blind, placebo-controlled study, 28 people diagnosed with xerostomia (dryness of the mouth) were randomly assigned to receive either placebo or individually prescribed homeopathic medicines.
Issing W., Klein P., Weiser M. The homeopathic preparation Vertigoheel versus Ginkgo biloba in the treatment of vertigo in an elderly population: a double-blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trial. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2005, Feb, 11, 1,155-60
  Manchanda R.K., Mehan N., Bahl R., Atey R., Double Blind Placebo Controlled Clinical Trials of Homeopathic Medicines in Warts and Molluscum contagiosum, CCRH Quarterly Bulletin, 1997, 19, 25-29.
Maronna U, Weiser M, Klein P. Comparison of the Efficacy and Tolerance of Zeel comp. and Diclofenac for the Oral Treatment of Gonarthrosis. Biological Medicine, 2000, 29, 3, 157-158. The trial was designed as a randomised, double-blind, actively controlled parallel study.
Schmidt C. A., Double Blind, Placebo-Controlled Trial: Arnica montana Applied Topically to Subcutaneous Mechanical Injuries. Journal of the American Institute of Homeopathy, Winter 1996, 89, 4, 186- 193.
Tveiten D, Bruset S. Effect of Arnica D30 in marathon runners. Pooled results from two double-blind placebo controlled studies. Homeopathy. 2003 Oct;92(4):187-9.

Walach H, Möllinger H, Sherr J, Schneider R. Homeopathic Pathogenetic Trials produce More Specific than Non-Specific Symptoms: Results from Two Double-Blind Placebo Controlled Trials. J Psychopharmacol. 2008 Jul;22(5):543-52.
Weiser M., Clasen B.P.E., Controlled Double Blind study of a Homoeopathic Sinusitis Medication. Biological Therapy,1995, 13, 1, 4- 11. In a randomised double-blind placebo controlled trial, 155 people suffering from sinusitis were given either a placebo or a homoeopathic combination (Heel Euphorbium compositum).

Williamson AV, Mackie WL, Crawford WJ, Rennie B. A Trial of Sepia 200. British Homeopathic Journal, 84, 1, January 1995, 14-20. Using a randomised placebo control method.

 

 

Page reviewed: 11 March, 2015