Simon Singh’s non-profit organization, the Good Thinking Society, achieved an important milestone for science-based health care in the UK last week (November 13th, 2015). After a long and storied campaign, his organization finally successfully petitioned the Department of Health to consider blacklisting homeopathy. The National Health Service (NHS), which provides the public funding for prescription medication, maintains a Schedule 1 ‘Blacklist’ of products that are not funded and may not be prescribed by physicians. Despite the fact that the NHS itself admits homeopathy doesn’t work, it has enjoyed full funding and prescription status up until now. Multi-billion dollar profits from the homeopathy industry provide for powerful lobbying, helping to keep it off the list and on the shelves. Follow these links to learn more.
- BBC News – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-34744858
- Simon Singh debating Peter Fisher on BBC 2’s Victoria Derbyshire show – http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-34810016
- Guardian – http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/nov/13/homeopathy-prescription-banned-from-nhs
Simon Singh is a true skeptical hero who put his career and future on the line when he challenged chiropractors several years ago. His actions led to libel reform in the UK. Now he is standing up to the sugar water moguls. Bravo Simon!
On the other side of the pond, the US Federal Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission, which regulates drug advertising, will soon conclude hearings considering homeopathic product efficacy and safety, as well as the claims made by homeopathy advertisers. The FTC proposes a requirement that labels and advertising acknowledge that homeopathic preparations have not been tested for efficacy or safety. Unfortunately the products will remain on shelves, right next to the real drugs. Whenever someone chooses sugar water over a real treatment there is a risk of harm being done so I hope the FTC goes further and recommends putting homeopathy behind the counter or in a new and properly labelled “fake but expensive, and possibly dangerous stuff” section of the store, right next to the “diet candy”. Danger comes not only from the delay of real treatment. Some homeopathic products, in a monumental twist of irony, are sneakily toxic. Some manufacturers, wanting their products to actually have some kind of effect, surreptitiously add active ingredients without listing them on the label, or do not dilute them as much as advertised, causing serious health problems.
As I wrote about recently, Health Canada has also recently acted to tighten up homeopathy labeling. This is a trend we can all feel good about.
Image from the Good Thinking Society homepage.