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Drugs agency grants its first licence to homoeopathic product

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 20 May 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b2055
  1. Deborah Cohen
  1. 1BMJ

    The United Kingdom’s drugs agency has given a licence to the makers of a homoeopathic product, despite scientists and researchers saying that no evidence shows that it works.

    Since September 2006 the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has been allowed to grant licences to traditional therapies if their use “is plausible on the basis of long standing use and experience” and no evidence shows that they cause harm.

    At the end of last month, Nelsons Arnicare Arnica 30c pillules became the first product in the UK to be given such a licence by the agency, which will enable its manufacturers to make therapeutic claims for it.

    Edzard Ernst, the UK’s only professor of complementary medicine, said that the agency’s national rules scheme was “making a mockery of evidence based medicine.”

    On the packaging, the makers will be able to describe the product as “a homoeopathic medicinal product used within the homoeopathic tradition for the symptomatic relief of sprains, muscular aches, and bruising or swelling after contusions.”

    Professor Ernst says that the remedy based on the plant Arnica montana has been subject to more controlled clinical trials than any other homoeopathic treatment.

    “There is no good evidence for arnica,” he said. “It …

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