National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Information Paper:
Evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating health conditions

On March 11, 2015, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) released an information paper and announcement regarding evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating health conditions. The American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists (AAHP) considers their conclusion to be a blanketed and unfounded generalization about the therapeutic effects of all homeopathic medicines. This overreaching announcement is a disservice to patients and health care systems around the world.

The AAHP believes that the only conclusion that can be drawn from the NHMRC paper is the need to replicate studies at a higher caliber for the majority of the health conditions that were examined.

NHMRC found that for 13 of the health conditions in their paper (or 23.6 percent), homeopathic medicines were reported to not be more effective than a placebo. For all other health conditions, NHMRC found the studies unreliable, which neither proves nor disproves the efficacy of homeopathic medicines.

   55 Health Conditions NHMRC review of studies that compared homeopathic medicines with a placebo.   (For one health condition, studies were included in two of the following result categories.)
13 Studies for these conditions found homeopathic medicines to not be more effective than a placebo.
14 Studies for these conditions were not reliable, but some showed efficacy.
29 Studies for these conditions were not reliable, there was only one study per condition, and it was not possible to make a conclusion about whether homeopathic medicines were effective or not.

Homeopathy is controversial because of the gap between the demand for more modern studies and the 200 years of empirical evidence. Hundreds of thousands of health care professionals and millions of patients throughout the world testify to its benefits. Yet, the mechanism of action is still under research. This is also true for many conventional medications. However, not knowing how something works does not lead to the conclusion that it does not work, that we should not take advantage of its benefits as shown daily by common usage, or that we should dismiss an entire therapeutic genre.

Governments that are challenged to meet health needs for the aging post-World War II population should consider investing in research of these affordable personalized treatments known for safety and medical-economic value. The AAHP calls upon decision-makers to take a deeper look at the impact of medical and health care strategy, and its real therapeutic worth. Larger scale medical-economic studies show the use of homeopathic medicines can reduce health care expenditures, specifically to treat anxiety disorders and acute recurrent colds in children.1-12 Dismissal of this cost-effective, non-prescription choice for self-treatable conditions in the marketplace is unjustified and will limit consumer choice on treatments that can provide a positive outcome. And while governments feel a responsibility to provide advice for informed health care decisions, so should universities equip tomorrow’s health care professionals for their patients’ questions on non-conventional therapies.

References

  1. Vainchtock A., Lamarsalle L., Trichard M., Chaufferin G., Nicoloyannis N., Descriptive and comparative study of patient management by homeopathic GPs versus allopathic GPs, Value in Health, 2002; 5 (6): 468.
  2. Trichard M., Lamarsalle L., Chaufferin G., Study of the practice of homeopathic General Practitioners in France, Homeopathy, 2003; 92: 135–139.
  3. Vainchtock A., Dansette G.Y., Nicoloyannis N., Duru G., Chaufferin G., Lamarsalle L., Medicoeconomic evaluation of anxiety disorders management in outpatient care, Health and System Science, 2000; 4: 103–115.
  4. Vainchtock A., Dansette G.Y., Nicoloyannis N., Duru G., Chaufferin G., Lamarsalle L., Évaluation médico-économique de la prise en charge des troubles anxieux en médicine ambulatorie, ICSSHC,
  5. Chaufferin G., Lamarsalle L., Dansette G.Y., Duru G., Évaluation médico-économique de la prise en charge des troubles anxieux. Étude pragmatique prospective: quells indicateurs de résultants?, AEA Econométrie de la santé XII, 1999, Système nerveux central.
  6. Trichard M., Chaufferin G., Cost-effectiveness of the treatment of anxiety disorders by homeopathic general practitioners, Improving the Success of Homeopathy: Bridging the credibility gap, Actes de la 4éme conference du Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, 2003: p. 62–63.
  7. Trichard M., Chaufferin G., Nicoloyannis N., Pharmacoeconomic comparison between two drug strategies of treatment of anxiety disorders: homeopathy and psychotropics, Value in Health, 2003: 6 (3): 350–351.
  8. Trichard M., Lamarsalle L., Chaufferin G., Nicoloyannis N., Évaluation pharmaco-économique du traitement des troubles anxieux. Stratégie médicaments homéopathiques” vs stratégie “médicaments psychotropes,” Santé et Systémique, 2002; 6 (4): 67–77.
  9. Lamarsalle L., Chaufferin G., Dansette G.Y., Vainchtock A., Duru G., Évaluation médico-économique de la prise en charge des rhinopharyngites aiguës récidivantes chez l’enfant de 18 mois à 4 ans: méthodologies et indicateurs de résultants, XXIéme congrès CALASS,
  10. Vainchtock A., Lamarsalle L., Chaufferin G., Dansette G.Y., Duru G., Medicoeconomic assessment of treatment of recurrent acute rhinopharyngitis in 18-month old to 4-year old children by general practitioners, The European Journal of Health Economics, 2002, Supplement 1, Volume 3:S83.
  11. Trichard M., Chaufferin G., Cost-effectiveness study of the treatment of recurrent acute rhinopharyngitis in 18-month old to 4-year old children by homeopathic general practitioners, Improving the Success of Homeoapthy: Bridging the credibility gap, Actes de la 4éme conference du Royal London Homeopathic Hospital, 2003: p. 43–40.
  12. Trichard M., Chaufferin G., Nicoloyannis N., Pharmacoeconomic comparison between two drug strategies of treatment of recurrent acute rhinopharyngitis in 18-month old to 4-year old children: homeopathy and antibiotics, Value in Health, 2003; 6 (3): 371–372.