Saturday, April 21, 2018

The quacks expose again

Homeopaths claim that “like cures like”. Remedies are prepared by dissolving a substance believed to cause a given affliction in water, then diluting it many times past the point at which any molecules remain in the solution. A droplet of this water is then applied to plain tablets before they are packaged. GP surgeries that recommend homeopathic remedies are more likely to be rated poorly for their prescribing in general, and to prescribe at greater cost to the NHS and potentially less safely, researchers say.

Scientists collected data from NHS Digital, via the Open Prescribing project, to discover which of 7,618 primary care practices in England prescribed homeopathy between December 2016 and May 2017. In total 644 practices, or 8.5 per cent of the total, prescribed the remedies.
 An average rating for each practice was then generated using 36 measures of prescription performance overall, which the researchers said had been “developed [by Open Prescribing] to address issues of cost, safety or efficacy by doctors and pharmacists”.
The authors wrote, “Even infrequent homeopathy prescribing is strongly associated with poor performance on a range of prescribing quality measures, but not with overall patient recommendation or quality outcomes framework score.”
Surgeries, where homeopathy was prescribed, were found to be more likely to prescribe more expensive and more addictive drugs, and fall foul of national guidelines. Dr Goldacre said the group found “higher use of needlessly expensive drugs, higher prescribing of opioids, breaching British National Formulary guidance on safe prescribing of [the arthritis drug] methotrexate etc”.
In 2010, a Commons science and technology committee report found homeopathic remedies performed no better than placebo, and that the principle they were based on was “scientifically implausible”. “People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness,” Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council said in 2015 after reviewing 225 studies of the remedies. There was “no good quality evidence to support the claim that homeopathy is effective in treating health conditions”, the body concluded

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