Thanks for the opportunity to raise the profile of homeopathy through your radio station. The only bad publicity is no publicity of course so thanks for your help with this.
During our telephone discussion it became obvious that you don’t know a great deal about homeopathy. In an effort to help you with this so that during any further discussion that we may have you’re better informed about this subject, I’ve inserted some material below. Please note here that I’m not refusing to answer your questions, but so I’m sure I’m not wasting my time and therefore Brauer’s time, before I respond to your questions I’d like a detailed response from you to the material below, and an answer to the question I’ve asked you at the end. I’d also appreciate it if you could tell me if your “Reality Check” program has featured any stories on medical iatrogenesis, which is responsible for at least 14,000 deaths in Australia every year, and upwards of 750,000 human deaths in places like the USA, or any stories featuring the fact that only 13% of medical practices and products has been validated by good quality evidence, and if you have not, why you’ve ignored these areas?
Firstly, it might be useful for you to know the extent to which homoeopathic medicines are used around the world. Globally, homoeopathy is an extremely popular modality and to reflect this, in 1999 the World Health Organisation (WHO) called for closer incorporation of homoeopathy into “western medical systems”1 and a ranking of the world’s top healing systems (including pharmaceutical drug therapy) carried out in 2003 had homoeopathy second only in popularity to Traditional Chinese Medicine2.
In Germany, 20% of medical practitioners prescribe homoeopathic medicines for their patients 3, 4, 5 and they’re used by 90% of German veterinarians6. It’s interesting that given the fact that homeopathy was originally developed by Dr Samuel Hahnemann in Germany, there isn’t a higher level of use by medical practitioners.
In the UK a study carried out in 1994 found that 10 out of the 16 university pharmacy schools taught homoeopathy as an undergraduate subject and in 1999, 66% of pharmacies sold homoeopathic medicines7, 8, 9 with some particular pharmacy groups such as Boots producing their own range of homoeopathic medicines10 . Still in the UK, there are 5 homoeopathic hospitals run by the British National Health Service (NHS), as well as 2 private homoeopathic hospitals and homoeopathy has been supported by the NHS since it’s inception in 194811, 12. A 1992 study found that 42% of British doctors refer their patients for homoeopathic treatment13 . By 2001 20% of Scottish GPs had been trained in homoeopathy 14 and by 2003, 86% of Scottish GPs surveyed were found to be in favour of homoeopathy 15 . Currently, homoeopathy is the second most popular complementary medicine in the UK 16, 17.
The situation in France is also interesting. Most French pharmacies carry these products18, 19 and in 1999 the French Medical Association called for homeopathy to be included in all medical degree training20. A 1998 study concluded that people using prescribed homoeopathic medicine cost the French government half of that for patients who used pharmaceutical treatments21, 22 .
Around the rest of Europe, 45% of doctors in the Netherlands use homoeopathy (40% of GPs in the Netherlands use homoeopathy23, 85% of Belgian medical practitioners provide homoeopathic treatment for their patients24, 25, 47% of Dutch doctors use homoeopathy26 and in the 10 years to 2002, interest in homoeopathy in Switzerland had risen by 300%27 and homoeopathy is rebatable by most health insurance providers27. In 1997, 37% of Norwegians who were surveyed had visited a homoeopath 28 and homoeopathy is the most frequently used system of veterinary medicine in Norway29.
In Europe generally, a 2003 survey found that 20-25% of all Europeans used homoeopathic medicines30, 31 and homoeopathy was the most frequently used complementary medicine in France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway, Italy and Switzerland32. In 1999 The European Parliament called for homoeopathy to be integrated into medical practice33 and the EU recommended that homoeopathy and herbs be used as first line treatments in veterinary medicine34
Pakistan appears to have a high level of interest in homoeopathy. Last year, the Pakistani Government established homoeopathic dispensaries in Pakistani hospitals35 and there are 165 government recognised homoeopathic medicine colleges operating throughout the country36. For the last few years the Pakistan government has set up homoeopathic medicine camps to treat the pilgrims who travel on the Haj to Mecca. Last year, 50,000 people were treated in these camps37. In India, 54% of medical practitioners prescribe homoeopathic medicines38 .They are widely used in Indian hospitals and homoeopathy is the most commonly used complementary medicine in this country39, 40, 41.
In 2003 in Sri Lanka, construction began on a government-funded homoeopathic hospital at Welisara42 and Columbian President, Alvaro Uribe, uses homoeopathic medicines to “stay in mental shape”43. It’s estimated that there are 15,000 homoeopathic doctors practising in Brazil44 and it’s a government requirement that homoeopathy is taught as an undergraduate subject in all pharmacy courses at Brazilian universities45. In the USA, 58% of US medical schools teach homoeopathy46. In Australia, the level of use of these medicines is a little difficult to determine. One relatively recent study said that around 12% of Australians use homoeopathic medicines but this figure has yet to be verified47. However, 78% of pharmacies here carry products made from homoeopathic ingredients and many of the larger pharmacy groups recommend these products as a core range, i.e. it’s mandatory for anyone setting up one of these stores to have them on their shelves 48. In New Zealand49 and South Africa50, homoeopathy forms part of the undergraduate program in pharmacy courses in some universities.
NOTE: ARTICLE CONTINUES AFTER CITATIONS:
1. Poitevin B, Integrating Homoepathy in Health Systems, WHO Bulletin, 1999, 77, 2, 160-166.
2. Kemper KJ, Jacobs J, Homeopathy in Pediatrics- No harm likely but how much good? Contemporary Pediatrics, May, 2003, 20, 97-111.
3. Ludtke R et al, Forsch Komplementarmed Klass Natureheilkd, 2001, 8, 4, 213-8.
4. BMJ 2 November 2002;325:990.
5. WHO Bulletin op cit.
6. HomInt R&D Newsletter, Glasgow Homoeopathic Hospital, 1998.
7. Jain, A, “Does Homeopathy reduce the cost of drug prescribing?” Homeopathy, 2003, 92, 71-6.
8. Barnes J, Uncovering Potential Problems with Complementary Remedies: A Survey of Community Pharmacies, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Report on Complementary and Alternative Medicines, Response to the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, Sob-Committee III, October, 1999, Appendix 2.
9. BBC News, 20 Aril 2003.
10. Authors personal observations, London 1995.
11. Owen DK et al, “Can doctors respond to patient’s increasing interest in complementary and alternative medicine?”, “, British Medical Journal, 20 January, 2001, 322, 154-8.
12. Natural Medicine Society News, 21, June 1992.
13. Natural Medicine Society News, op cit.
14. Reilly D, The Puzzle of Homoeopathy, J Alt Compl Med, 2001, 7, Suppl 1, S103-9.
15. Hamilton E, Exploring General Practitioners attitudes to homeopathy in Dumfries and Galloway, Homeopathy, 2003, 92, 190-194.
16. “New research in the Times Body and Soul reveals disenchanted Britons turning to complementary therapy”, PRNewswire, London Jan 9, 2004.
17. The Independent, 17 November, 2003.
18. Author, personal observations, Paris, 1993, 1995.
19. Pharmacoepidemiol Drug Saf, 2004, Mar, 18, 13, 10, 711.
20. Archives of Internal Medicine, 1999, 17, September 27.
21. Archives of Family Medicine, 1998, 7, 537-40.
22. Economic facts and figures, European Coalition on Homoeopathic and Anthroposophical Medicinal Products, September 2003, 9-10.
23. Visser GJ, et al. Alternative Medicine and General Practitioners in the Netherlands, Family Practice, 1990, 7, 3, 227-232.
24. Aldridge D. Europe looks at Complementary Medicines, BMJ, 1989, 299, 1121-1122.
25. Watson R. “Belgium is to Regulate Complementary Medicine, British Medical Journal, 22 May, 1999, 318, 1372.
26. Pirotta MV et al, Complementary Therapies- have they been accepted in general practice?, Medical Journal of Australia, 2000, 172, 105-109.
27. Swiss Radio International, May 2, 2002.
28. News Briefs, Complementary Medicine, March/April 2003, 11.
29. Viksveen P, Antibiotics and the development of resistant microorganisms. Can homeopathy be an alternative? Homeopathy, 2003, 92, 99-107.
30. Viksveen P, op cit
31. European Coalition on Homoeopathic and Anthroposophical Medicinal Products, op cit
32. Viksveen P, op cit
33. Archives of Internal Medicine, 1999, 17, September 27.
34. Viksveen P, op cit.
35. www.paknews.com, 21.6.03.
36. www.paknews.com, 21.6.03
37. “Ailing Haj pilgrims provided treatment”, Pakistan Daily Times, Mar 3, 2003.
38. The Daily Star, Sept 26, 2002.
39. Times of India, 9.6.03.
40. J Ethnopharmacol, 2001, May, 75, 2-3, 71-5.
41. The Hindu, October 23, 2003.
42. Daily News, Sri Lanka, Jan 3, 2003.
43. “A Year In, Uribe Racing to Reform”, St Petersburg Times, August 4, 2003.
44. Yasgur J. “Homeopathy In Brasil”, Homeopathy Today, Jan 2003, 34.
45. Yasgur J. op cit
46. Acad Med, 2002, September, 77 (9), 876-81.
47. Brauer Natural Medicine, Industry marketing data 2004
48. Brauer Natural Medicine, Industry marketing data, op cit
49. Personal correspondance, Dr Steven Kayne, PhD, MBA, LLB, DAgVetPharm, MRPharmS, MCPP, MPS (NZ), ACNZP, Visiting Lecturer, Dept of Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Strathclyde, Tutor, Homoeopathic Hospitals of Glasgow and London, Tutor, Pharmacy Dept, Otago PolytechnicMay 1995.