The good news is that the Department of Health continues to be in favour of patient choice and access to homeopathy as it currently stands and recognises the potential impact to patients, practitioners and homeopathic pharmacies of any changes to the way the Act is enforced. Current levels of enforcement of the act would continue in the way it has done for the past 40 years and therefore would not seek to restrict the current homeopathic provision/access routes.
Many of you will know that the new 2012 Medicines Act as it is currently drafted could be interpreted so as not to allow the sale of unlicensed homeopathic medicines by mail order. It is true to say that the current 1968 Act could be interpreted in the same way, but because it hasn’t for 40 years, it would be difficult to do so now. The concern has been that it becomes an entirely different scenario with a new Act where the issue of “precedence” does not apply.
The Dept of Health has said that it is not expecting the new Act to be enforced any differently. Pretty well every MP in the country has received letters on this matter. The Government is insisting it is in favour of patient choice and wants access to homeopathy to remain as it stands.
No doubt there will be attempts by the “sceptics” to use the new Act to challenge the availability of homeopathy, however it is clear that there is support for Homeopathy in “high places”. The Medicines Health and Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is responsible for enforcing the legislation and in the end has to tailor its enforcement practice to government policy.
The purpose of the new Act is to consolidate all the regulations that have been issued over the last 40 years since the 1968 Act was passed. It is therefore uncontentious legislation which gets the job done quickly and easily to the satisfaction of the healthcare industry. To address the issue of homeopathy and give it the “special status” it needs would stir the proverbial hornet’s nest!
Homeopaths have battled since their very inception for homeopathy to be accepted by the medical profession. Even as the public have demonstrated a greater and greater interest in alternative therapies, the establishment becomes more entrenched in holding on to its territory. History shows this in all aspects of life. Just look at what the scientists went through who challenged the idea of the earth being flat.
For me I bless the situation, because I know that only good can come from it if I am willing to look for the opportunities in it. As John Morgan (Helios) commented – give thanks for the challenge which reinforces our truth and faith. So for now it is business as usual.
Totally wrong on so many levels!
There are some fundamental errors in this article.
The MHRA have acted on occasion. Vendors have been instructed to remove products from sale or face enforcement. Both Helios and Ainsworths were told to stop supplying various “remedy kits” by the MHRA. It is also the case that the MHRA (and others) acted to remove homeopathic hCG from the UK market.
I think it is a misreading of the situation to suggest that the MHRA are carrying out government policy. The MHRA are a self-funding executive agency that operates at “arm’s length” from the DH and government. From what the DH have told me, they have not instructed the MHRA in anyway regarding enforcement of regulations pertaining to homeopathic medicines.
Homeopathic medicines are doubtless a low priority from the MHRA – they tend not to represent a danger to public health. They don’t pro-actively look for breaches of regulation, they reactively respond to complaints. The MHRA would appear to be largely indifferent to homeopathic medicines. And I would suggest that Government is as well. However, EU Directives place a duty on Member States to ensure that unregistered homeopathic medicines do not appear on the market – and that would include mail order.
Homeopathic medicines DO enjoy special treatment under regulations. They can be registered without the need to prove efficacy.
It is worth noting that UK regulation of homeopathic medicines is the result of EU Directives and lobbying by EU manufacturers. It suits the large EU manufacturers very well. The problem in the UK has arisen because UK manufacturers have registered very few homeopathic medicines.
And the article ignores the elephant in the room. What are the ethical implications for businesses and individuals who knowingly choose not to comply with the law? It is worth pointing out non-compliance could ultimately result in criminal prosecution.
Thanks for providing such a balanced perspective, Rob!