According to top scientific institutions in Britain, patients will be put at risk by alterations in the regulation of homeopathic medicines. Besides, the system permitting homeopathic medicines to make medical claims is being opposed by hundreds of doctors and scientists.
As the House of Lords discusses the new rules, the statement signed by these doctors and scientists has been released. However, according to the drug regulatory agency, the new regulations will benefit patients.
AdvertisementThe Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) introduced new regulations in September that permit homeopathic preparations to indicate the disorder that they can be used for.
In a statement, the Royal College of Pathologists said they were "deeply alarmed" that the regulation of medicine had "moved away from science and clear information for the public". The Medical Research Council said claims should not be made about efficacy of products without "rigorous and objective evidence". And the BioSciences Federation warned the MHRA's decision was of "extreme concern" adding "it seems in this case that the MHRA has bowed to industry pressure".
The Physiological Society, the British Pharmacological Society, the Society for Applied Microbiology, the Royal Society and the Academy of Medical Sciences are among the 12 national societies that has raised concerns over safety of the patient and correctness of the information.
According to Sense about Science that has been gathering views on this topic, 600 doctors and scientists have signed a statement which says homeopathic medicines should not be permitted to make "unsubstantiated health claims" and that the policy is "damaging to patients' best interests".
Implications like the MHRA has been partially prompted by a desire to improve the homeopathic industry have angered the reviewers. According to the MHRA, if the new system were not introduced, the industry's expansion would be inhibited.
Lord Dick Taverne, chair of Sense About Science, who is taking part in the House of Lords debate on the regulation change said: "As many of the medical specialists contacting us have pointed out, evidence-based medicine has been a major public gain of the 20th Century.
"This is the first time, since the thalidomide tragedy and the 1968 Medicines Act, that the regulation of medicines has moved away from the science rather than towards it."
But Dr Peter Fisher, clinical director of the Royal London Homeopathic Hospital said: "The regulations just tidy up the situation by saying 'this homeopathic medicine has been traditionally used for' and it brings it into line with the regulations for herbal medicines. "I think it's a bit of a storm in a teacup," he added.
A spokesperson for the MHRA said: "The National Rules Scheme provides a significant opportunity to improve consumer information about the use of homeopathic products on the UK market whilst maintaining rigorous control over their quality and safety.
"The scheme requires that products have patient information leaflets which are regulated to the same standards as conventional medicines, ensuring that they are clear and comprehensive."