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End state funding for homoeopathy,says Britain govt panel

Britain should end its state funding for homoeopathic treatments because they are scientifically implausible and work no better than placebos,an influential parliamentary panel said on Monday....

Written by Reuters | London |
February 23, 2010 3:12:20 am

Britain should end its state funding for homoeopathic treatments because they are scientifically implausible and work no better than placebos,an influential parliamentary panel said on Monday.

The Science and Technology committee said homoeopathic products are not medicines and should no longer be licensed by medicines regulators.

Homoeopathy producers should not be allowed to make medical claims on product labels without evidence they work,it added.

The committee accused the government of sending out mixed messages about homoeopathic remedies by saying that while there is no evidence to back them,they can still be paid for by Britain’s public National Health Service (NHS).

It sets an unfortunate precedent for the department of health to consider that the existence of a community which believes that homoeopathy works is “evidence” enough to continue spending public money on it,committee chairman Phil Willis said in a statement. This also sends out a confused message,and has potentially harmful consequences.

An election is due in Britain later this year and political leaders are under pressure to come up with any saving they can to bring down the country’s ballooning public deficit. Ministers estimate the NHS spends around £152,000 — a tiny fraction of its around 100 billion pound budget — on homoeopathic remedies each year.

In its report on homeopathy,the committee agreed with the government that evidence shows homoeopathy is not efficacious — meaning it works no better than a placebo,or dummy pill.

Explanations for why homoeopathy would work are scientifically implausible,it said.

Homoeopathy is controversial because many of its central concepts do not accord with modern science. Many studies have found homoeopathic remedies are no more effective than placebos.

Paula Ross,chief executive of the Society of Homoeopaths,rejected the findings and accused the committee of wasting public money by turning its inquiry from one on the government’s policy on homoeopathy to one about whether homoeopathy works — a question she said the committee was ill-equipped to answer.

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