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Nov 13 2015

Good Thinking Society welcomes Department of Health consultation on ‘Blacklisting’ homeopathic treatments

Simon Singh and the Good Thinking Society have today welcomed the decision of the Department of Health to consult on adding homeopathic remedies to the NHS ‘Blacklist’.

Following a proposed judicial review by the Good Thinking Society(1), the Department of Health have announced a consultation to consider including homeopathic products in Schedule 1 to the National Health Service (General Medical Services Contracts) (Prescription of Drugs etc.) Regulations 2004(2).

Schedule 1, aka the ‘Blacklist’, lists products that NHS doctors cannot prescribe, effectively ensuring that these products are not paid for by the NHS. The list contains over 3000 products, from pharmaceutical drugs to herbal medicines, as well as items such as suntan lotion, wine and Ribena.

Founder of The Good Thinking Society and science writer Simon Singh said: “Given the finite resources of the NHS, any spending on homeopathy is utterly unjustifiable, when the money spent on these disproven remedies can be far better spent on treatments that offer real benefits to patients. Homeopathic remedies have been thoroughly demonstrated to be nothing more than placebos. In fact, it is the official position of the British Medical Association(3), the Chief Medical Officer(4), the Chief Scientific Advisor(5), the House of Commons’ Science and Technology Select Committee(6), and even the stated position of the current Health Secretary(7).”

Good Thinking, represented by legal firm Bindmans LLP, had proposed challenging the Department Health’s refusal to add homeopathic products to the ‘Blacklist’ on the basis that such products met a number of criteria for inclusion, including that they were neither effective nor cost-effective.  However, the Department have now agreed to consult on the issue, so there was no need for the challenge to be brought.

Jamie Potter, Public Law and Human Rights Partner at Bindmans LLP, said “The NHS ‘Blacklist’ exists to ensure that NHS money is not spent on products that do not work, that work no better than cheaper alternatives, that are not cost effective or that are widely available inexpensively. By every one of these criteria, it’s clear that homeopathic products should be included on the Blacklist.  A refusal to add homeopathic remedies to the list would not only represent a breach of the Department of Health’s legal obligations, but also a failure to ensure that NHS funds are spent on treatments that can genuinely help patients.”

References

  1. https://goodthinkingsociety.org/should-homeopathic-remedies-be-blacklisted-on-the-nhs/
  2. http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2004/629/schedule/1/made
  3. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10449430
  4. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/9822744/Homeopathy-is-rubbish-says-chief-medical-officer.html
  5. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/health/news/10003680/Homeopathy-is-nonsense-says-new-chief-scientist.html
  6. http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200910/cmselect/cmsctech/45/4504.htm#a18
  7. http://www.lbc.co.uk/watch-jeremy-hunt-live-on-lbc-from-7pm-96835

 

Notes for editors

  • Good Thinking Society – the Good Thinking Society is a registered charity set up by science writer Simon Singh to encourage curiosity and promote rational thinking. https://goodthinkingsociety.org/
  • Bindmans LLP – Bindmans LLP is a central London law firm specialising in public law and human rights, and recognised by Chambers and Partners as having an “unrivalled reputation for its civil liberties and human rights work”. http://www.bindmans.com/
  • Homeopathy – homeopathy is a 200-year-old system of alternative medicine which relies on the notion that diluting a remedy increases the strength of the remedy, with the most powerful remedies diluted until they contain no active ingredient. It has been widely tested and the best evidence has consistently shown homeopathy to be ineffective. Despite this, the NHS currently spends an estimated £4m per year on homeopathy.
  • Judicial Review – a judicial review is a type of court action in which a judge reviews the lawfulness of a decision or action made by a public body.
  • The work of Good Thinking is largely funded by its founder Simon Singh, but it also relies on donations from its supporters and the general public via its Just Giving page: https://www.justgiving.com/Good-Thinking
  • This month, Professor Edzard Ernst won the Maddox Prize for “standing up for science”, and generously donated his £2,000 prize money to Good Thinking.

 

For more information, contact Michael Marshall, Project Director of the Good Thinking Society: