The British Homeopathic Association has been accused of misrepresenting scientific evidence on alternative medicine in documents it gave to a parliamentary inquiry.
The organisation claimed several scientific reviews offered support for homeopathy in material submitted to the cross-party science and technology select committee, which is holding an investigation into the products. Robert Mathie, a researcher at the BHA, said the reviews found evidence for a difference between homeopathic remedies and sugar pills, which contain no active ingredients.
But the claim has dismayed some of the scientists who wrote the reviews and angered MPs on the committee who are in the final stages of writing their report.
One review cited was written by Edzard Ernst, a scientist who investigates complementary medicine at the Penisula Medical School in Exeter. He said the BHA's interpretation of his study was "grossly misleading" because they failed to mention important caveats published in the study. Another review, by Jean-Pierre Boissel at the Hospitals of Lyon and University Claude Bernard in France, was quoted as evidence that homeopathic treatments differ to placebos. Boissel said his conclusion was that homeopathy tended to fare worse in the best-designed studies.
"It is extremely disappointing to be fed misrepresentations of science, whether it's deliberate or incompetence," said Evan Harris MP, science spokesman for the Lib Dems and a member of the parliamentary committee.
Homeopathic treatments are usually made by diluting a substance so much there are no molecules of the original ingredient left. In November the chief pharmacist at Boots, Paul Bennett, told the inquiry he had no evidence that homeopathy works. At the weekend, hundreds of people took part in a "mass overdose" of homeopathic pills outside branches of Boots to protest against the company selling the products.
The row emerged as a survey for the medical journal, Pulse, found 80% of GPs want the Health Department to stop funding homeopathy on the NHS. Only 14% were in favour of the health service continuing to provide the treatments. According to figures released last year, homeopathy cost the NHS £12m over 2008. Peter Davies, a Halifax GP, said: "If patients want to try homeopathy and pay for it themselves, that is fine. In terms of evidence-based medicine, homeopathy doesn't get a look in. It is something the NHS should not fund."
In a statement, Mathie said: "The BHA's evidence to MPs did not misrepresent the clinical research evidence in homeopathy; it is an accurate and reasonable summary of the facts, with a series of recommendations for future research … We need more and higher quality clinical trials."
Source: The Guardian
Need a 'pseudoscience' tag... very unwilling to use 'science' for something about flipping homeopathy.