As homeopathy shows no improvement in people’s health, funds usually directed to offering rebates for homeopathic therapies might serve better objectives, researchers stated.
National Health and Medical Research Council scientists reviewed 1800 studies on the effects of homeopathy, and found no evidence to support claims of its effectiveness.
“There is no good quality evidence to support the claim that homeopathy works better than a placebo,” the NHMRC report said.
Report authors stated that homeopathy should not be used to treat serious health conditions or those conditions likely to turn serious.
Fundamental to homeopathy is the idea that the body has its own healing response ability to many diseases, and these abilities can be stimulated with specially prepared, highly diluted substances.
A 2009 review by World Health Organization estimated that Australians spend about $7 million ($A9 million) each year on homeopathic medicines.
According to Paul Glasziou, chair of the NHMRC homeopathy working committee, health funds should stop offering rebates for homeopathic therapies.
“In the current financial constraints, I would think that health insurers … should be looking at what is effective versus ineffective treatments,” says Prof Glasziou. “Things that haven’t been shown to be effective, I wouldn’t want to see those funded either public or privately.”
In the set of 1,800 studies used in the review, only 225 met the criteria to be included in the NHMRC’s examination of homeopathy. Specifically, a study was included in the review if they compared a group of people who received homeopathic treatment with a similar group who did not receive treatment.
The Australian Homeopathic Association said it was in the process of preparing a formal response to the NHMRC report.