Vote Dr Kerryn Phelps for ‘Better Health’. No, wait, she supports………Homeopathy?

Better Health! Excellent, let’s vote for Dr Kerryn Phelps. But hold your horses. While most people will think in terms of improved diagnostics and better, safer, less expensive medications and improved accessibility, others such as Dr Phelps have a different agenda. For some people, usually having some financial stake in alternative healthcare, ‘better health’ unfortunately means that they will exploit the current problems/deficiencies in the healthcare system to promote less effective, or even completely ineffective, medications to the general public. One can almost call this their ‘unique selling point’. But when a medication is completely ineffective none of the other issues (diagnostics, cost, safety etc) matters, and yet people such as Dr Phelps continue to promote this. In my humble opinion, a criminal activity, because ineffective treatments cause unnecessary harm and death.

But she is a clever one. As a well-known public figure, she cannot do all of the dirty work herself because she needs to keep her image squeaky clean. So, to get behind the swing of the bat, it is worthwhile to have a look at her collaborators in what I call, an ‘unholy Alliance’, and their dark world of deceit. Dr Phelps is an adjunct at the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM), headed by Prof Alan Bensoussan. She is also part of the NICMs advisory board and states on her campaign website: “Dr Phelps is committed to teaching the next generation of doctors as Conjoint Professor at University of New South Wales Faculty of Medicine and in the National Institute of Complementary Medicine at Western Sydney University.”

It is during these advisory board meetings, held in the herbal-essence filled back rooms at Western Sydney university, where they come up with their sinister plans of how to integrate ineffective treatments into the healthcare system. Let me put in plain language; ‘how to BS the public’. Let me explain at the hand of homeopathy (a next article will deal with vaccinations and traditional Chinese medicine).

Support for Homeopathy

Homeopaths are an interesting, although completely delusional, bunch of people – but they do have a very good sense of humour. They will for example take a substance, any substance (even imaginary ones), go into a state of delirium during a process called ‘proving’, and dilute the substance away – completely away. During this process they note their ‘symptoms/state of delirium/feelings’ which then becomes the indications, and like magic, the vial containing only solvent suddenly becomes a ‘medicine’. To understand their sense of humour, you just need to read about any ‘proving document’. Take for example the homeopathic remedy prepared from a Black hole. They affix a vial of alcohol to the viewing end of a telescope focused on Cygnus X-1’s location within the Cygnus constellation. After collecting the ‘substance’ they dilute it into oblivion with the delirious homeopaths taking this ‘medicine’ stating that it; “ … felt their teeth were “drawing inward.” So it makes perfectly sense that this homeopathic remedy is suitable to be prescribed for……..??

You also get homeopathic remedies prepared from; Excrementum caninum (yes, dog shit), condoms, colours, musical notes, Berlin wall etc. (Here you can find my top ten list of homeopathic remedies for 2017. If you can top any of these remedies, please let me know – I am busy compiling 2018’s list).  One might now argue that all these examples are on the extremities of homeopathy, and yes sure, but it doesn’t really matter. You can also take any well-known medicinal herb, or even a real medicine such as an antibiotic, but as soon as you ‘prepare’ it according to the homeopathic principles, the medicine disappears which will render even the most effective antibiotic useless. The sad reality is that some homeopaths prescribe their remedies for serious conditions such as malaria and cancer which obviously leads to a lot of unnecessary harm and death.

Sure, the biggest risk is indirect, due to neglecting serious medical conditions, but there are also examples when homeopaths go into such as state delirium that they sometimes manage to get their dilutions wrong. For example; many babies died and hundreds were hospitalised in the US after a toxic substance (deadly nightshade) was not correctly diluted. Clearly homeopathy cannot possibly be included within the ‘Better Health” campaign promise?

So how does Dr Phelps support and exploit this? She operates a number of ‘integrative medicine’ clinics where naturopaths, who are known for their love of homeopathy and anti-vaccination tendencies, are employed. A couple of years ago Dr Phelps made the following comments in an article regarding the funding of homeopathy:

Start of excerpt

Unfairly targeted?

But some doctors suggest homeopathy is being unfairly targeted.

“It smacks of a crusade to me,” says Professor Kerryn Phelps, president of the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association (AIMA), which promotes “the integration of safe, evidence-based complementary medicines and therapies with current mainstream medical practice”.

She does not believe homeopathy is having the kind of impact on private health premiums Harvey fears, and says there are “bigger fish to fry” when it comes to fixing the healthcare system.

Phelps says homeopathy can be easily criticised because it has a relatively small evidence base.

But, she suggests orthodox treatments are not subject to the same level of scrutiny.

“The Journal of the American Medical Association earlier this year produced a meta-analysis of SSRI anti-depressants in mild to moderate depression and found them no better than placebo,” says Phelps, who is Conjoint Professor in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales and a former president of the Australian Medical Association.

“If you are going to exclude treatments that don’t have an evidence base then we have to start looking at pharmaceuticals that don’t have an evidence base, surgical therapies that don’t have an evidence base.”

Matter of evidence

Dr Vicki Kotsirilos, who originally founded AIMA, says she is sympathetic to Harvey’s concerns but rejects some of his conclusions.

“To say that there is no evidence for homeopathy is actually incorrect and unfortunately a lot of people make those statements,” says the Melbourne-based GP, who points to evidence collected by the British Homeopathic Association.

“There have been systematic reviews that have shown that overall homeopathy is not anymore of benefit to placebo or of marginal benefit. But there have been some Cochrane Collaboration reviews that there is a little bit of research available for some therapies.”

She says some of the major studies quoted don’t properly take into account how homeopathy is used.

“When you prescribe homeopathy, it’s often individualised and you won’t use the same homeopathic remedy for one person with a particular disease to another person with the same disease,” says Kotsirilos.

She says homeopathy, and other complementary therapies, are particularly popular among patients who have suffered side-effects from medication, or where surgery is contraindicated.

“Out of all the complementary medicines it is the least understood, with the least amount of research,” says Kotsirilos, who calls for more funding for research.

“We need more research to be able to identify which patients might benefit from homeopathy and in what conditions, bearing in mind that there are people out there who choose to use this and we have to respect their choices.”

End of excerpt

(Vicki Kosirilos is obviously also part of this ‘alliance’ being a member of the NICM’s ‘Research Committee’). A couple of years ago the NHMRC did a thorough study on homeopathy and found it to be, surprise-surprise, ineffective and recommended that the public should not use homeopathy because they are putting their health at risk. This the Alliance cannot have, because it flies in the face of their plans to integrate ineffective remedies. The director of the NICM, Alan Bensoussan published a press release highlighting the ‘methodological flaws’ and that it doesn’t agree with all international reports on homeopathy etc. But it is during these advisory board meetings where they decide how and who should respond to this unfair ‘attack’ on their sinister plans (here you can read the minutes of one of their meetings). This job usually falls in the lap of Carl Gibson, the CEO of Complementary Medicine Australia – their attack dog.

He promptly published that the NHMRC report is “fatally flawed” and ends his press release with the prophetic words “Homeopathy has been around for hundreds of years, and I am sure will be around a lot longer than some of the critics.” Translated it simply means “We (Dr Phelps, the NICM and their whole alliance) do not accept that a complementary medicine is ineffective, and we will do whatever we can to continue to protect, promote and sell it”. They also lodged a complaint at the Commonwealth Ombudsman, claiming that the NHMRC report “…is inaccurate, highly misleading to the public and unjustly damaging to the credibility of the homeopathy sector. It is therefore essential that all published documents relating to the Homeopathy Review are rescinded in their entirety.” (there is some uncertainty about whether this complaint was actually lodged or not).

All that these people need to do is to plant the seed of doubt in the mind of the public, which is enough to ensure that people will continue to buy these ineffective remedies. Dr Phelps will continue to make real healthcare suspect, claim that her ‘medications’ are all natural, safe and evidence-based and that it will also save you a lot of money. But in reality, she and her Alliance does not give a hoot that people, including young children and babies, die because of what they are promoting – for them it is all about money!! (A good example of the type of people you need in such an Alliance is Prof Gregory Kolt. He was even found guilty of fraud; “As a result, the defendant fraudulently obtained a total of $5,864.15 from the Authority over a period of 14 months. When the matter was investigated, the defendant provided false information and documents.”)

A vote for Dr Phelps is a vote to give this unholy Alliance a foot in the federal door. She will provide easier access and opportunities for this Alliance to lobby government ministers in order to integrate their ineffective remedies with conventional healthcare. This, in my view, will be a travesty for the healthcare system. While homeopathy is one of the easier fake medications to debunk, Dr Phelps’s involvement and impact unfortunately gets a lot murkier. In a next article I will focus on vaccinations and how this alliance has infiltrated the World Health Organisation who now promotes, you guessed it, homeopathy and all sorts of other disproven and unproven traditional medicines.

Complementary Medicine Australia (CMA). Masters in selling ice to Eskimo’s, but occasionally, they do slip up and acknowledge it!

It is always interesting, and sometimes hilarious, when Complementary Medicine proponents slip up, especially when it is on national TV. As we all know, these people try their utmost best to lobby just about everyone in order to increase the sales of their mostly ineffective products. Asian countries are now being targeted by Australian companies such as Blackmores and Swisse, with the latter even sponsoring the ABC’s international network giving them exclusive advertising rights in Asian countries. Contrary to this rather shocking revelation, the ABC’s program ‘Four Corners’ took an in-depth look at the vitamin and supplement industry in Australia, and reported, unsurprisingly, that most of their products are unproven (although, disproven might have been a better term to use) – you can find the full transcript of the program here.

At the end of the program Carl Gibson, the CEO of Complementary Medicine Australia (CMA), responded to plans to reform the regulation of Complementary and Alternative Medicines (CAMs) in Australia, by having it independently tested and labelled accordingly. In other words; this product has been tested and it was found that it does not work! One can imagine that a company like Blackmores, who has recently donated $10 million to the National Institute of Complimentary Medicine (NICM), will not approve of this idea, as this implies that they will have to label 90% plus of their products as ineffective. But then only if their products are truly independently tested.  And hence, the CAM industry is in all likelihood lobbying with the NICM, for the NICM to become this ‘independent’ testing facility.

The problem is rather obvious, the NICM is not independent at all. They receive huge sums of money from the CAM industry, they are listed as an associate organisation of the CMA, they sponsor organisations such as the Australasian Integrative Medicine Association who peddles all sorts of disproven and unproven CAMs, and in return Carl Gibson sits on the NICMs advisory board.  The Directors of the Blackmores Institute are are also both listed as adjuncts of the NICM etc. etc. A very good example of their inability to accept that a specific CAM simply does not work, is Carl Gibson’s rather aggressive response to the NHMRC’s report that Homeopathy is ineffective. The NICM published a more measured, but similar response. They just won’t accept the NHMRC’s recommendations regarding homeopathy – you can read their response here. Surely, there are some serious question marks around the NICMs independence?

But having said that, all of these organisations and people work in unison by lobbying extremely hard to be able to expand their range of mostly ineffective products, specifically targeting Asian countries.  That this is exactly what they are up to, can be seen by Carl’s little slip-up. The whole program was about the unproven and disproven nature of the CAM industry’s products and this is what he had to say about it. Here is an unedited excerpt from the transcript:

“GEOFF THOMPSON: Lobbying continues against any labelling system which would make unproven products look bad.

CARL GIBSON: We have a growing international trade. So if you’re an Asian consumer and you pick up 2 products identical and the NZ product doesn’t have that disclaimer and our does I think you’re actually disadvantaging the Australians.

ASSOC. PROFESSOR KEN HARVEY: The challenge will be to see who wins. Will industry lobbying destroy any reform yet again or will the weight of time, the pressure from consumer groups and health professional groups and others actually mean that this time, something might happen? I’m not holding my breath.”

So, what does Carl Gibson say? – allow me to translate. “We know damn well that most of our products does not work and in effect that it should not be sold to the public. But, we don’t give a hoot because it is all about money, and if we don’t bullshit the Asians, somebody else will, in this case the Kiwis!”

It will be interesting to see how these regulatory reforms will unfold over the next couple of months or maybe years, and how the different role players will try and influence the process. But, like Prof Harvey said, we should not hold our breaths for any significant reforms!

What can you do about all of this?

The bureaucracy involved is extremely complex, so the best thing to do is to stop using their products and treatments – e.g. prevention. Inform yourself and your family and friends about how these people play their game and what the dangers are regarding these ‘treatments’. ‘Friends of Science in Medicine’ provides valuable healthcare information as well as the website of Prof Edzard Ernst, where he discusses everything complementary medicine (what works and what doesn’t). If you are interested in receiving automatic updates regarding the NICM and what they are up to, you can always follow my Blog,  Twitter or connect on LinkedIn. I have also started a FaceBook page where I regularly post contents regarding the NICM, and complementary medicine in general (@CompleMedQuacks).

Will keep you posted regarding the outcome of the 2017 Bent Spoon awards (the NICM has again been nominated), and please, ‘Like’ and share this article via FaceBook etc. – see options below.