Let’s be clear: pseudoscience kills. And they are being employed with total impunity thanks to European laws that protect them.
They kill thousands of people, with names and family. People such as Francesco Bonifaz, a 7-year-old boy whose doctor prescribed homeopathy instead of antibiotics. He died in Italy . People like Mario Rodríguez, who was 21 years old and was told to use vitamins to treat his cancer. He died in Spain . People like Jacqueline Alderslade, a 55-year-old woman whose homeopath told her to stop taking her asthma medication. She died in Ireland . People like Cameron Ayres, a 6-month-old baby, whose parents did not want to give their child “scientific medicine” . He died in England. People like Victoria Waymouth, a 57-year-old woman who was prescribed a homeopathic medication to treat her heart problem. She died in France . People like Sofia Balyaykina, a 25-year-old woman, who had a cancer that was curable with chemotherapy but was recommended an “alternative treatment”, a mosquito bite treatment. She died in Russia . People like Erling Møllehave, a 71-year-old man whose acupuncturist pierced and damaged his lung with a needle. He died in Denmark . People like Michaela Jakubczyk-Eckert, a 40-year-old-woman whose therapist recommended the German New Medicine to treat her breast cancer. She died in Germany . People like Sylvia Millecam, a 45-year-old woman whose New Age healer promised to cure her cancer. She died in Netherlands .
European directive 2001/83/CE has made –and still makes— possible the daily deceiving of thousands of hundreds of European citizens . Influential lobbies have been given the opportunity to redefine what a medicine is, and now they are selling sugar to sick people and making them believe it can cure them or improve their health. This has caused deaths and will continue to do so until Europe admits an undeniable truth: scientific knowledge cannot yield under economic interests, especially when it means deceiving patients and violating their rights.
Europe is facing very serious problems regarding public health. Over-medicalization, multiresistant bacteria or the financial issues of the public systems are already grave enough, and there is no need to add to that gurus, fake doctors or even qualified doctors who claim they can cure any disease by manipulating chakras, making people eat sugar or employing “quantic frequencies”. Europe must not only stop the promotion of homeopathy but also actively fight to eradicate public health scams, which implicate more than 150 pseudo-therapies in our territory. Thousands of citizens lives depend on that. In fact, according to recent research, 25.9 % of Europeans have used pseudo-therapies last year. In other words, 192 million patients have been deceived .
Some believe there is a conflict between freedom of choice for a treatment and the removal of pseudo-therapies, but this is not true. According to article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, every person has a right to medical care. Lying to patients in order to sell them useless products that could kill them breaks the right to true information about their health. This way, even if a citizen has a right to refuse medical treatment when properly informed, it is also true that nobody has the right to lie to obtain profit at the expense of someone else’s life. Only in a world in which lying to a sick person would be considered ethical, could we allow homeopathy—or any other pseudo-therapy—to continue to be sold to citizens.
Effective treatments being replaced by false ones is not the only danger of pseudo-therapies. Obvious delays in therapeutic care occur when a person gets false products instead of medication at the early stages of a disease. Many times, it is already too late by the time they get treated with proper medicine. Moreover, several of these practices have serious effects on their own and may cause damage or even death because of their side effects.
Many pseudo-therapists argue that “the other medicine” comes with side effects as well, which is true indeed. However, the difference resides in that pseudo-therapies cannot cure a disease or improve your health, and because of that patients assume risks in exchange of promises that are a scam, according to the full weight of the scientific evidence available. Lying to a sick person is not another type of medicine, it is simply lying to a sick person.
Every country has to face the issue with pseudo-therapies in its own ways. Yet it is not acceptable that European laws protect the distortion of scientific facts so that thousands of citizens can be deceived or even lead to their deaths.
We, the signatories of this manifest, therefore declare that:
- Scientific knowledge is incompatible with what pseudo-therapies postulate, as in the case of homeopathy.
- European laws that protect homeopathy are not admissible in a scientific and technological society that respects the right of the patients not to be deceived.
- Homeopathy is the most known pseudo-therapy, but it is not the only one nor the most dangerous one. Others, such as acupuncture, reiki, German New Medicine, iridology, biomagnetism, orthomolecular therapy and many more, are gaining ground and causing victims.
- Measures must be taken to stop pseudo-therapies, since they are not harmless and result in thousands of people affected.
- Europe needs to work towards creating legislation that will help stop this problem.
Europe being concerned about the misinformation phenomena but at the same time protecting one the most dangerous types of it, health misinformation, is just not coherent. This is why the people signing this manifesto urge the governments of European countries to end a problem in which the name of science is being used falsely and has already costed the life of too many.
[This manifesto was reproduced with permission. Scientists in other countries who take healthcare and science serious should put more pressure on their politicians and regulators to, uhmm, wake up, because this is by no means a European problem, it is a global problem – please sign the manifesto]
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