Homeopathy online, the online portal of the German Central Association of Homeopathic Physicians, titled on 27 September 2017 : “Interview: How a positive homeopathy study turned into a negative one”. Under this heading, an interview is published with the head of the British Homeopathy Research Institute (HRI), Dr. Alexander Tournier, on the mistakes and deficiencies allegedly contained in the major homeopathy review of the Australian health authority NHMRC of 2015.
The INH has thereon addressed the following Open Letter to the Central Association of Homeopathic Physicians:
German Central Association of Homeopathic Physicians (DZVhÄ)
Homeopathy-Online, 27 September 2017:
Interview: “How a positive study turned into a negative study” (in German)
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is understandable that after the publication of the assessment of homeopathy by the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC) – the umbrella organisation of the European Academies of Science – you are in a somewhat precarious position. It is understandable that you are trying to refute the results. We are surprised, however, that you have not found a better solution than to once again address the criticisms of the large-scale review published on behalf of the Australian Ministry of Health in 2015.
In her interview published on Homöopathie-Online, Dr. Tournier merely repeats the previously known arguments against this study, without, however, being able to present evidence for the previously unproven allegations or to offer new points of view for the arguments that have long since been refuted. Tournier makes the most massive accusation that can be made against scientists, namely to have falsified the results, i.e. to have deliberately published false results, only in order to – yes, why actually? In view of this serious accusation, however, this provides remarkably little substance:
- The alleged 200-page report on the points of criticism is not being presented.
- There is no evidence of the existence of a previous valid study which was rejected because of its alleged positive result.
- The NHMRC states quite correctly that the literature search and the public submissions together resulted in over 1800 text passages, 225 of which met the inclusion criteria. This is a common procedure, even required in the CONSORT Statement for transparency of reporting. Mr. Tournier does not seem to know this.
- Studies with less than 150 participants were also admitted, which were evaluated with the GRADE procedure recommended by the WHO. Obviously Mr Tournier did not read the work correctly or completely, so he missed that.
- The quality requirements are in line with the usual guidelines of the Cochrane Collaboration for “Reliable evidence” in evidence-based medicine.
- None of this contradicts a scientific standard, as Mr Tournier claims.
- Prof. Peter Brooks was not the chairman of the working group, as Mr. Tournier could easily conclude by reading the relevant sections of the summaries.
Details can be found on our information page on the web.
At this point, we would like to raise the question of whether a complaint has actually been lodged with the Commonwealth Ombudsman. We would question whether this is the right place to remove a scientific disagreement, it is more of a complaints body where Australian citizens can defend theirselves against unjustified acts of the government. Nevertheless, we are looking forward to the results of this complaint.
The ombusdman usually works rather quickly – over 80% of cases are dealt with in less than three months – so there should be an answer by now. We note that the Australian Homeopathy Associations do not comment on this. and also the authors of the study have not yet been involved in the procedure, which leads us to the above question.
Finally, we would like to point out that the results of the NHMRC point in exactly the same direction as the other seven systematic reviews on homeopathy published since 1991, including the work published in 2017 by R.T. Mathie, a staff member of the Homeopathy Research Institute, and therefore staff member of Mr. Tournier:
There is no strong evidence that the effectiveness of homeopathy in any clinical picture goes beyond placebo!
In this respect, the discussion about the methodology of the study seems somewhat academic: even if the alleged discrepancies were actually present, they do not seem to have had much influence on the result.
Information Network Homeopathy