Placebos No Longer Placating

The Times reports:

Family doctors are prescribing fewer prescriptions for homeopathy than they were two years ago, new figures reveal. The number of prescriptions for homeopathic preparations dropped from 83,000 in 2005 to 49,300 in 2007, statistics from the Prescription Pricing Authority show.

There are five NHS homeopathic hospitals: in London, Bristol, Glasgow, Liverpool and Tunbridge Wells, which continue to treat chronic conditions such as asthma, eczema, migraine, allergies and depression.

But local NHS Trusts are cutting back on homeopathic services, with a quarter stopping or reducing funding for the treatments over the past two years — Tunbridge Wells Homeopathic Hospital is due to close in eight months.

All wonderful news. I’ve no objection to hysterics dabbing a small amount of “Rescue Remedy” – that is, brandy – on their lips when the stresses of the day get too much for them. However, I can’t see the argument for the public subsidy of quackery.

There is some dispute as to why the numbers have fallen:

Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicine at Peninsula Medical School in Exeter and a vocal critic of homeopathy, said that the huge drop in prescribing reflected a shift in attitude within the medical profession.

“The figures reflect a more critical attitude on homeopathy and a shift towards evidence-based medicine. The trend is bound to increase as the evidence that homeopathic remedies are pure placebos is getting stronger,” he said.

But Dr Tim Robinson, a GP who provides a local homeopathic service in Dorset, said that the decline reflected an orchestrated “hate campaign” against homeopathy led by such critics.

Never mind Dr Robinson.

I hear that there’s a vacancy at a clinic in Belgrade you might consider applying for.