PA Homeopathy - Dr. Bernardo A. Merizalde

PA Homeopathy Blog

Mar 19, 2014

Was the Swiss government wrong?

Swiss flagScientists and skeptics are not the only ones taking a hard look at homeopathy. The Swiss government commissioned a seven-year health assessment study on the subject. Here are their results.

Published in June 2006 in Forsch Komplementmed, “Effectiveness, safety and cost-effectiveness of homeopathy in general practice - summarized health technology assessment” is not a homeopathic study by homeopaths.  In fact, this Health Technology Assessment on homeopathy’s treatment effectiveness, cost effectiveness, and appropriateness was done for the Swiss Federal Office for Public Health by  G. Bornhöft, S. Baumgartner, P. F. Matthiessen, S. Maxion-Bergemann, M. Righetti, A. E. Thurneysen, K. von Ammon, and U. Wolf.

According to André Saine, president of the Quebec Association of Naturopathic Medicine, the eight authors were independent scientists—three of them practicing homeopaths—and the editors’ specialty was analytical trials in the fields of neurology and psychology.

Dr. Saine shared these findings from the study in a debate in 2012 about the merits of homeopathy:
• “An HTA [Health Technology Assessment] is an established scientific procedure, which in contrast with meta-analysis and systematic reviews, examines not only the efficacy of homeopathy, but especially ‘its real-world effectiveness,’ its appropriateness, safety and economy.”

• “HTAs are therefore much wider in scope and politically more informative.”

• “For the evaluation of the effectiveness of homeopathy all available systematic reviews were examined.”

• “All meta-analyses were prepared by the Institute for Social and Preventative Medicine of the University of Berne, which is specialized on research on public health issues.”

• “A total of 22 reviews were analysed. The synopsis of the study results found at least a trend in favour of homeopathy in 20 of 22 reviews.”

• “A follow-up study with very high external validity, i.e. the investigation of the effectiveness of individualized classical homeopathy, also provided strong evidence of effectiveness.”

• “This much more comprehensive and differentiated HTA showed that homeopathy was effective, safe and cost-efficient.”

• “Final conclusion: the ‘real-world effectiveness’ (effectiveness likely, questionable or unlikely)’, homeopathy falls within the category:  'effectiveness likely’.”

• “Safety: Medical homeopathy in Switzerland has few side effects if professionally executed, and the use of high potencies is free from toxic effects."

• “With pharmaceutical costs being what they are, the use of homeopathy has the potential to lower pharmaceutical spending.”

• “In summary, it can be said that there is sufficient evidence for the preclinical effectiveness and the clinical efficacy of homeopathy and for its safety and economy compared with conventional treatment.”

• “In January 2011 the Swiss Federal Department of Home Affairs decided that homeopathy will be included in the Swiss statutory health insurance and reimbursed for a minimum of 6 years.”

The Assessment also noted
• Positive homeopathic results in the treatment of upper respiratory tract infections and allergic reactions
• 6 out of 7 controlled studies were at least equivalent to conventional medicine
• 50% (8 out of 16) of placebo-controlled studies were significantly in favor of homeopathy
• Swiss training of homeopathic physicians and regulation of products offers a high degree of safety
• “Applied properly, classical homeopathy has few side-effects and the use of high-potencies is free of toxic effects.”

Was the Swiss government wrong or should it be an example of a progressive healthcare policy?

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