Too much medicineBMJ 2013; 346 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.f1328 (Published 27 February 2013) Cite this as: BMJ 2013;346:f1328
All rapid responses
The Fiona Godlee editorial “Too much medicine”  refers that the evidence of medical excess in rich countries has grown, with increasingly clear documentation of the harms and costs of unnecessary intervention. This is an extremely important consideration at present economic crisis, which imposes justice on allocation of scarce resources. But, if there is evidence of futile waste at medicine practice, what can we say about Homeopathy?
Patient’s autonomy to choose treatment is a fundamental ethical principle that must be respected, and so, this is the main argument invoked by Homeopathy defenders. But patient’s autonomy to choose the best treatment must be supported by accurate and unbiased information obtained by a trustworthy comparison of treatment’s efficacy.
Homeopathic preparations involves so many serial dilutions, that mathematically it may be assumed in the final product an absence of the original molecules, and therefore many scientists consider homoeopathic remedies as water like placebos , which was confirmed on several pathologies by many placebo-controlled trials comparing homoeopathic with allopathic products [3,4], but the most expressive proof that “homeopathy does not work” is the Ingrid Torjesen  article describing the lobby suppression of the report produced by NHS Choices saying that many independent experts agree that “there is no good quality clinical evidence to show that homeopathy is more successful than placebo”. Choosing homeopathic medicines patients have an illusion of autonomy.
History of Science is plenty of false theories and errors which however had not hindered the amazing scientific progress, obtained by the correction of the errors as Karl Popper said. What characterizes Science and distinguish it from pseudoscience is not the absence of errors, but the Science capacity of transparent and rigorous exposition of experimental methods and data, in order to make possible their critical discussion and scrutiny by scientific peers allowing correction of errors, and refutation of false theories and data. Is the rigorous scientific method and peer scrutiny that reduces bias factors and makes Science a more reliable interpretation of the real world. Why homeopathic practitioners avoid the scientific method and peer scrutiny, invoking different and mysterious mechanisms or energies to explain their medicines action? How and by which means did they know the existence of that energies and how can we measure it?
It seems a paradox, that in a world invaded by proofs of scientific progress, including many allopathic medicines, for which there is a rigorous regulation, on the other side we have a very permissive regulation for expensive and ineffective homeopathic medicines, when patient’s economic resources are so scarce.
1- Fiona Godlee “Too much medicine”. BMJ 2013;346:f1328.
2- Skrabanek, P. Is homoeopathy a placebo response? The Lancet 1986; 2: 1107.
3- Shang A, Huwiler-Müntener K, Nartey L, Jüni P, Sterne JAC, Pewsner D, Egger M. Are the clinical effects of homoeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homoeopathy and allopathy. The Lancet 2005; 366: 726–32.
4- Ernst E. A systematic review of systematic reviews of homeopathy. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 2002; 54: 577–582.
5- Ingrid Torjesen. Civil servants suppress evidence on homeopathy on NHS website after lobbying from prince’s charity. BMJ 2013;346:f1071.
Competing interests: No competing interests