UK homeopaths flustered over law that may signal their demise

This story is being played out in blogs and within the communication circles of parties involved. People in the U.S. may not be aware of what’s happening. But, what eventually happens may have ripples everywhere. Could homeopathy be declared illegal in the U.K.

This is from Homeopathy Action Trust: Campaign Update – threat to homeopathic medicines

The Medicines Act 1968 aims to ensure that medicinal products are produced and supplied in a way which ensures both product quality and patient safety. The MHRA’s recent consultation and ‘consolidation’ aimed to make this vast, confusing, out-dated law simpler, clearer and up to date.

However, this process has highlighted ways in which the Act is inappropriate when applied to modern use of homeopathic medicines because, the Act was written with conventional drugs in mind i.e. the regulations it created were designed to protect the public from potentially dangerous substances, and it was written long before the phone, internet and mail order became major supply routes.

Once this review of the Medicines Act has been concluded, if Section 10 remains unchanged, it will clearly state that it is unlawful to supply unlicensed homeopathic medicines (i.e. most remedies) by phone, mail order or via the internet.

As homeopathic medicines are at high dilution they do not pose the same dangers as conventional drugs, carrying no risk of toxicity. For this reason, the homeopathy profession is asking for an amendment to be made to Section 10, exempting homeopathic medicines from this part of the Act.

A fine analysis comes from the blog Quackometer, characterized (wrongly) by the homeopathic lobby as “a blog which particularly attacks homeopathy and other complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). It is essentially the opinion of an individual who appears to understand neither homeopathy nor conventional medicine.”

The End of Homeopathy

The people responsible are not bloggers like me. It is the homeopaths themselves. They failed to ensure their trade was placed on a firm legal footing. They had thirty years to get this right. Their panic in the last few weeks is no substitute. It is a failure of leadership, diligence and competence.

The first comment on the Quackometer post is very relevant. It notes that homeopaths can’t have it both ways. They have to either state they are medicine and fall in line with the rules of the rest or say they aren’t medicine and stop claiming there is a medicinal benefit. Instead they want some magical exemption from all. If there is no danger from homeopathy (because there is no active ingredient), then there is no ACTIVE INGREDIENT and it’s water/sugar, i.e. useless except as placebo. It’s all very simple, actually.

I’m not sure at this point if there is anything that UK citizens can do (if you know, please comment). Just know that the homeopaths are lobbying to save their livelihoods.

Credit: Quackometer

Addition: Homeopathy Under Threat Following New Legislation in the UK

The legislation regulating the safety and prescription of medicines is undergoing a major review in July to update and simplify it. Homeopaths worry the anti-homeopathy lobby may use the law to restrict the practice.

It has become established custom and practice for many homeopaths and patients to procure remedies via the internet and telephone.

But under the 1968 Medicines Act, a person may only purchase medicines that are exempt from licensing in person from a pharmacist. This means that the 2,000 practising homeopaths and the 6 million to 9 million patients who use homeopathy are technically acting illegally.

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  4 comments for “UK homeopaths flustered over law that may signal their demise

  1. June 27, 2012 at 12:55 PM

    I love the accusation that Le Canard Noir doesn’t understand medicine. Homeopaths: he, unlike you, is an actually IRL doctor. As in: someone who spent years studying real medicine rather than dispensing tea, sympathy and sugar pills to the worried well. As for not understanding homeopathy, I would say he’s got your number pretty comprehensively, but then I am also a member of the reality-based community so consider homeopathy to be institutionalised health fraud.

    • June 27, 2012 at 1:31 PM

      I know. That was laughable. But he doesn’t get the “magic” part like they do.

  2. Donny
    June 29, 2012 at 2:27 AM

    Concerned citizens can contact their local MP, as anywhere else, and express their opposition to any exemption being made.

    Google “who is my mp” and hit the top result. Easy.

  3. Exilapotekare
    July 1, 2012 at 4:21 PM

    Sadly, homeopathy as regulated “medicine” is in large part a question for the European Union legislation… We need a re-write of the directives regarding medicinal products that exclude homeopathy, regardless of the extensive uses in France, Germany and Greece!
    Thankfully the NHS has been clear that it is up to the local trusts whether they should allow reimbursment for homeopathy, and more and more of them declare that they will not.

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