Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Letters Homoeopathic product licence

MHRA label seems to be illegal

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 10 June 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b2333

Rapid Response:

Homeopaths panic

It will not escape the attention of the reader that Brian Kaplan has accused me of saying a lot of things that I didn't say and don't for a moment believe. He seems that he thinks laws that are designed to stop unfair trading are somehow Stalinist, though that can't be a very common view.

I think that we are seeing signs of severe panic among homeopaths as it begins to dawn on them that the easy ride they've had for the last 30 years is coming to an end. People are now looking at the evidence and they find it isn't there. The bad side of this is that it seems to drive those who continue to believe in the magical approach into even more extreme positions. We see, for example, homeopaths in Africa, treating malaria, AIDS and TB with sugar pills. Perhaps Dr Kaplan would like to defend them too?

Another odd thing about Dr Kaplan's letter is that he overlooks the fact that the only people who have actually used the law to silence critics are the alternative medicibe advocates (though they use defamation law not the Fair Trading law). The Society of Homeopaths has used it to have critical web pages removed. Most recently of course, chiropractors have used it to try to silence their critics, by suing Simon Singh. I imagine they must now be feeling rather nervous since the result of their legal action has been a close inspection of what they consider to be evidence, and consequently the submission of over 500 formal complaints to the General Chiropractic Council.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

21 June 2009
David Colquhoun
Research Professor