The government today introduced a controversial licensing scheme. According to it, the packaging or covering on the homeopathic products will be permitted to describe the ailments they claim to be able to cure.
With the aim to bring homeopathic remedies into the area of licensed medicines, the National Rules System was designed. However, doctors and scientists believe that products with no scientific proof to confirm their claims will be legitimized by it.
Kent Woods, chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the government agency responsible for licensing medicines and ensuring their safety, said: "This is a significant step forward in the way homeopathic medicines are regulated. Products authorised will have to comply with recognised standards of quality, safety and patient information."
The rules "diluted and polluted" regulation of medicines, said the Liberal Democrat MP Evan Harris on the Commons science committee. "The multi-million pound homeopathy industry should not be allowed to make health claims for its products without proper evidence of effectiveness," he said.
Medicines have required scientific data to prove their efficacy to get a license ever since 1971.
Homeopathic products were not allowed to be categorized as medicine or permitted to put any claims on packaging about ailments they profess to cure, because they lacked proof of their efficacy.
These products will get license from the MRHA based on "homeopathic provings", observations of the symptoms (such as watering eyes or headaches) a person gets when given a particular substance.
Michael Baum, emeritus professor of surgery at University College London said: "This is like licensing a witches' brew as a medicine so long as the bat wings are sterile."
However, Penny Viner of the British Association of Homeopathic Manufacturers feels that this scheme would promote growth in the range of products on the market and would improve customers' knowledge about their advantages.