A single scientific study, reporting the results of a clinical trial, should always be cautiously interpreted. Only when a large number of high quality studies are published a scientific conclusion can be drawn – a.k.a. systematic reviews or meta analysis of clinical trials. Based on this one can conclude that, yes, this medical treatment seems to work or it does not work. Thus with time comes wisdom – or so they say!
I recently noticed an UK newspaper article which referred to the much discussed Australian NHMRC review on homeopathy (published in 2014). Main finding: Homeopathy was found to be ineffective for 68 medical conditions and “people who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness.” Add to this that there has been a class action lawsuit against a homeopathic company in the US then the conclusion can be drawn that homeopathy is nothing more than a placebo. This was also confirmed by the many mass protests where people simply overdosed themselves with homeopathic medicine – obviously without it having any effect. Surely then, any scientist will concede that homeopathy simply does not work for any medical condition!
But there is also a much more serious side to this. The clear warning of the NHMRC is that people put their health at risk, not due to the homeopathic medicine itself, but due to not taking effective medication. That this warning is not an overstatement has been tragically demonstrated over and over. Add to this that you can also buy homeopathic medicine for serious conditions such as malaria and HIV, then I would argue that any scientist supporting homeopathy is out of their mind.
Now back to the year 2000. In my previous blog post I discussed the National Institute of Complementary Medicine’s (NICM), hosted by Western Sydney University (WSU), rather misleading statements regarding the efficacy of TCM and CM in general. During those particular radio interviews the statement by the NICM concerning homeopathy was “In homeopathy there’s a very difficult field because whilst there are some clinical trials that show benefits, and well-controlled clinical trials that show benefit, the theory that accompanies homeopathy, if anything gets up a medical scientist’s nose” Another participant however stated that “….so we have seen much better studies about homeopathy. And actually it turned out that most, I would say almost every one of those newer studies, was negative for homeopathy” Thus even back in 2000 the NICM was trying to convince the public that there are indeed scientific evidence for homeopathy, even though they knew that high quality studies gave negative results.
If we now look at the systematic reviews that the NHMRC included in their 2014 study we find that 51 of the 58 (or 68 of the 176 individual trails) studies were published since 2000. Thus in the 14 years after the radio interview almost 90% of the reviews were published and one might argue that with time comes wisdom and with all this new scientific information the NICM will change their stance on homeopathy. Unfortunately, they do not! Their response to the NHMRC report remains the same as in 2000. According to the NICM there are a number of high quality clinical trials that supports homeopathy and they simply make the NHMRC report suspect. Why do they continue to knowingly mislead the public?
“Indeed the International Council for Homeopathy is currently leading a fund-raising effort: not to fund better research, but to attack the NHMRC document.” And what does the NICM do as an “independent” scientific institute? The highlighted text on page 2 of this document should clarify their stance. They simply join forces with their sponsors in order to attack the NHMRC report.
In previous blogs I made it clear that the NICM is nothing more than a front company for the complementary medicine industry. For them no amount of science, common sense or even compassion for people who are currently suffering at their hands will be enough to change their views or the views of the university that hosts them. If you are funded by industry or fervent supporters of CM, including homeopathy, then you will never be able to take an unbiased independent scientific stance on homeopathy. The public need to get this information from trusted institutes at universities in order to make informed choices regarding healthcare issues. After all, universities are mainly funded by the taxpayer. As it stands now this is impossible and, in my view, makes the NICM a serious public health threat. This, however, is not an Australian issue but a global issue.With time comes wisdom but only if you seek the truth.