German Homeopathic Doctors on EASAC Statement: An Answer from the INH

We have reported on the verdict of the Advisory Committee of the Scientific Academies of the European Community on Homeopathy and reactions to it. As expected, the German Central Association of Homeopathic Physicians has also commented on the EASAC statement on its portal Homeopathy online. Parallel to this, a statement of the German Federal Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry (BPI) has been published, to which the DZVhÄ also refers – the Federal Association takes a rather sharp, at least unmistakably homeopathy-friendly stand against the statements of the EASAC.

The INH has written the following open letter on the publication of the DZVhÄ:

 

To the
German Central Association of Homeopathic Physicians (DZVhÄ)
– by email –

 

21.10.2017

 

Homeopathy Online, October 11, 2017:
“EASAC: Working group criticizes homeopathy with one-sided study selection”

Dear Sir or Madam,

once again a well-known committee has made critical comments on homeopathy and you feel obliged to comment on them. Interestingly enough, you thereby refer to a publication of the German Pharmaceutical Industry Association, a lobby organisation which is actually the concept of an enemy of the homeopathic scene.

Once again, your statement is only very superficial and gives your readers a completely incorrect impression of the real facts. This refers not only to your counter-arguments, but also to the way you describe the criticism in question.

The critic this time is the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), an advisory body of the European Union, in which the national academies of science of the EU countries have joined together. You criticise the fact that the working group that drafted the opinion consisted of “only eleven scientists” – overlooking the fact that even the EASAC’s leading Secretary as the twelfth was not just a mere typist. One wonders, however, what you actually expect: the “Organon”, as you may recall, was written by only one person, Samuel Hahnemann. The the critisized paper is an official publication of EASAC and thus a recommendation to the governments of the EU and the individual states.

It is worth taking a look at the authors: All of them are high-ranking scientists from various fields of medicine, biochemistry and pharmacy, all of them professors or emeritus professors. The top league of European life sciences is gathered here. A look at the research awards in the Wikipedia entry on Volker ter Meulen, the chairman of the working group, might be very informative. A standard criticism on your part: There was no homeopathic researcher involved. Which is probably because no homeopathic researcher has yet managed to be accepted into one of the European Academies of Sciences. However, we would like to leave open what the reason for this may be – dark machinations of the pharmaceutical lobby are somehow out of the question.

On the basis of its analysis, EASAC demands requirements that every food manufacturer who makes health-related statements about his products has to fulfil, but which seem to you to be an unreasonable demand in the case of homeopathy, namely that the claimed health effect must also be proven. And that patients should not be deceived about the true facts, for example through packaging and advertising.

The analysis was not limited – as you stated significantly abridged – to reading only one-sidedly selected studies and leaving out the positive studies and meta-analyses. This first of all raises the question what positive meta-analyses actually exist on homeopathy; we do not know of a single one in which the effectiveness of homeopathic preparations beyond placebo has been convincingly demonstrated, either for homeopathy as a whole or even for a single indication. We refer here to earlier contacts and our offer of a discussion, which your Mr Behnke, in spite of his differing view, has not yet wanted to take up.

It should be pointed out that the superficiality which you are accusing the EASAC working group of is not given: not only have the studies in question been used as a basis, but also the main research contributions have been examined, which deal with the fundamentals of homeopathy, as well as other important aspects such as safety, labelling and marketing, and application in veterinary medicine.

But all this aside: you write – unjustifiably in our view – that the efficacy of homeopathy has already been confirmed (No, your statement about the situation in Switzerland is wrong, there the efficacy has been verified, but despite the present result and without the actually planned renewed verification of the efficacy, homeopathy was included in the basic insurance – on the basis of a referendum). Why, it has to be asked, are you then not presenting this evidence? Why do you insist on the protective fence of the German Medical Law, which allows you and two other “special treatment options” not to have to prove effectiveness?

The EASAC analysis has not led to new points of criticism, that is correct. This may be due to the fact that substantial points of criticism that are not taken up and pursued usually do not resolve themselves over time. However, your opinion that the EU regulations already adequately address these older points of criticism is clearly wrong:

    • The effectiveness of homeopathic preparations does not need to be proven at present,
    • Health insurance companies cover the costs despite scarce funds,
    • the labelling of the ingredients is difficult for the layperson to understand, for example that no active substance is contained,
    • the advertising of homeopathic remedies is largely unregulated, which means that although the product itself may not be used to draw attention to the indications, this leaves a great deal of scope for undermining them, whether by sponsoring relevant lectures and websites, providing support for advice literature or direct training for doctors, alternative practitioners, midwives, pharmacists and other public health providers.

These are all current deficits in the legal regulations currently in force in Germany – even if the points of criticism themselves are older.

But there is one thing we are very pleased about: We now have a quotable source that shows that homeopaths are working together with the pharmaceutical lobby – and we can prove that we do not receive support from these circles.

Kind regards

Natalie Grams
Norbert Aust
Udo Endruscheit

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