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Wednesday, 28 August 2019

The First Australian Report on Homeopathy. Lies, damned lies, and medical science

  • In July 2012 the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) published its first report on homeopathy. This report was withdrawn, and its existence and its contents were first denied, and never disclosed to the public.
  • In March 2015 the NHMRC published its second report on homeopathy, and this concluded that “…there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective”.
I wrote about this situation in my blog, "The Australian Report. The credibility of medical science" in April 2017, and again in "The Australian Report on Homeopathy. A travesty of evidence and science" in August 2017.

Homeopathy is used to being regularly attacked by the conventional medical establishment. We normally just get on with what we do best - making sick people fit and well! But this report seemed particularly dodgy, and I outlined the reasons for this in my second blog. In the main they were the same reasons as in any other report by medical science that states that homeopathy is ineffective.

But with the Australian report there was a further mystery. Why was the first report withdrawn? What were the findings of the first report? For several years a number of 'freedom of information' requests were made, but each time, they were turned down. No-one was allowed to see it.

Now, after considerable pressure from the homeopathic community, led by the Homeopathic Research Institute (HRI), the first NHMRC paper has been published. It can be read, in full here. It turns out that the author of this earlier report concluded that for at least five medical condition there was
               "encouraging evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy"
 This is a different conclusion to the second report, which has been used homeopathy skeptics (supporters of conventional medicine and the pharmaceutical industry) to attack homeopathy ever since. This is the conclusion reached by Rachel Roberts, Chief Executive of HRI.

               “For over three years NHMRC have refused to release their 2012 draft report on homeopathy, despite Freedom of Information requests and even requests by members of the Australian Senate. To see this document finally seeing the light of day is a major win for transparency and public accountability in research.”

The HRI will now carefully review the first (positive) report and compare it with the second (negative) report in terms of the science, or more accurately the misuse of science, that this whole episode has made clear. It is important that this is done.

This blog, however, raises important questions about the political power of the pharmaceutical industry, how influential the conventional medical establishment has become, how it now dominates public health services, and the health information and misinformation that patients are being subjected to by so-called medical 'science'.

In brief, the situation demonstrates that the conventional medical establishment....
  1. ... has the power to overturn a government sponsored report which found homeopathy to be an effective medical therapy, and insist on the writing of another report that would come to the opposite conclusion,
  2.  ...has sufficient influence over medical science to insist that the new report deviates from what is generally considered to be 'good scientific practice' in order to come to the conclusion that the evidence for homeopathy does not warrant,
  3. ... has sufficient control over the mainstream media to ensure that it does not investigate what has happened, and censors any information that comes from homeopathy, and the natural health community generally,
  4. ... has sufficient influence and power over the Australian government to ensure that the findings of the 1st report remain unknown for several years, whilst the misinformation and lies contained in the 2nd report are taken up through its health policy, and acted upon.
Now that the first report has been published, belatedly, new questions come to mind. For instance, I am now wondering whether the conventional medical establishment has the power to ensure that the publication of the 1st report, favourable as it is to homeopathy, will still not mentioned, leave alone discussed, by the mainstream media?

And I wonder whether the Australian government's health policies will continue to exclude homeopathy, and other natural therapies, on the basis of the now discredited 2nd report?

Another, more general question, is this. Can the conventional medical establishment, that peddles such misinformation, ever be believed again, about anything? And can patients trust that conventional medicine is really interested in delivering good health?