E-DRUG: Homeopathic Drugs: 2 messages received - Canada and Australia
[Messages concerning approaches to assessment of homeopathic medicines have
Larry Sasich in Canada and Ken Harvey in Australia. They are posted together
Thank you Larry and Ken. BS. Moderator]
1. Canadian Regulation of Homeopathic Drugs and Natural Health Products
Larry D. Sasich, PharmD, MPH, FASHP
1201 North Shore Blvd East #802
Burlington, Ontario L7S 1Z5
The March 13th episode of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Market
Place program focused on Health Canada's regulation of homeopathic products
and by implication Natural Health Products. To say the least, it was eye
The producers of Market Place were able to license a fictitious homeopathic
product for children with Health Canada and the only evidence required for
safety and efficacy being photocopies of two homeopathic drug monographs
for old textbooks.
This is the link to a 22-minute program:
The reputation of a country as having an advanced regulatory authority is
not sufficient to license products and should be viewed with skepticism.
2. Australia: National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) releases
final statement and advice on homeopathy
from Ken Harvey
Adjunct Associate Professor
School of Public Health and Preventive Medicine
March 11. The National Health and Medical Research Council released a statement
concluding that there is no good quality evidence to support the claim that
homeopathy is effective in treating health conditions.
Its release follows a thorough review of the evidence, conducted as part of
NHMRC's responsibility to provide advice and support informed health care
decisions by the Australian community.
The conclusion is based on the findings of a rigorous assessment of more
than 1800 papers. Of these, 225 studies met the criteria to be included in
NHMRC's examination of the effectiveness of homeopathy.
The review found no good quality, well-designed studies with enough
participants to support the idea that homeopathy works better than a
placebo, or causes health improvements equal to those of another treatment.
Although some studies did report that homeopathy was effective, the quality
of those studies was assessed as being small and/or of poor quality. These
studies had either too few participants, poor design, poor conduct and or
reporting to allow reliable conclusions to be drawn on the effectiveness of
According to CEO Professor Warwick Anderson, "All medical treatments and
interventions should be underpinned by reliable evidence. NHMRC's review
shows that there is no good quality evidence to support the claim that
homeopathy works better than a placebo."
He drew particular attention to the NHMRC Statement on Homeopathy's advice
that homeopathy should not be used to treat conditions that are chronic,
serious, or could become serious: 'People who choose homeopathy may put
their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is
good evidence for safety and effectiveness. People who are considering
whether to use homeopathy should first get advice from a registered health
practitioner and in the meanwhile keep taking any prescribed treatments.' He
emphasised that health practitioners should always offer treatments and
therapies based on the best available evidence.
"Each year NHMRC funds research to test treatments and procedures offered to
patients, with more than $320 million spent on clinical and health services
research in 2014," Professor Anderson said.
"NHMRC conducts reviews of evidence on a range of health topics which is
developed into guidelines or advice. Examples include clinical practice
guidelines on the management of overweight and obesity and the Australian
Dietary Guidelines," he said. "It is important that the public has access to
independent, high quality advice when it comes to making decisions about
their health care."
"From this review, the main recommendation for Australians is that they
should not rely on homeopathy as a substitute for proven, effective
treatments." "This statement was the result of a rigorous examination of the
evidence and used internationally accepted methods for assessing the quality
and reliability of evidence for determining whether or not a therapy is
effective for treating health conditions."
"NHMRC is also aware of strongly held views on this topic so it is important
to note that the process was thoroughly consultative and that the public was
invited to submit information and evidence, all of which was considered by
our expert working committee."
The findings of the homeopathy working group's review are summarised in the
final NHMRC Information Paper: Evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy
for treating a clinical condition also released today.
The release follows public consultation on the draft information paper in 2014.
The Statement, Information Paper and Frequently Asked Questions are
available on the above NHMRC website.