Australasian Science: Australia's authority on science since 1938

Should Doctors Recommend Homeopathy?


A debate in the British Medical Journal has argued about whether the report into the evidence for homeopathy by Australia’s NHMRC omitted key pieces of evidence.

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“Peter Fisher [Royal London Hospital for Integrated Medicine] makes several incorrect assertions about the methodology used in the NHMRC report which undermine his conclusions. The report was based upon a review of systematic reviews of clinical trials involving the use of homeopathy. As such it was the least biased evaluation of the current evidence that is possible, and no important reviews were omitted to our knowledge. The quality of the reviews and the trials they were based upon found that most studies were unreliable due to the possibility of bias or poor design.

“He also incorrectly suggests that the Swiss commissioned a report that was favourable for homeopathy. As highlighted in the NHMRC report, this was a public submission from a call for submissions made by the Swiss government, and to imply it is a government-sanctioned report is a misrepresentation of its status that appears to be commonly made by proponents of homeopathy.

“Peter Fisher refers to in vitro (laboratory) experiments that demonstrate a physiological action. Whilst this was not the focus of the NHMRC report, it is important to remind the public to examine ‘evidence’ carefully and to note that these experiments have not been reproducible and remain controversial within the scientific community.

“The NHMRC report examined claims for effect in many conditions and did not focus...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.