HRI gives input to consultation on flawed Australian NHMRC homeopathy report

The Homeopathy Research Institute (HRI) welcomes attempts to critically evaluate the evidence base for homeopathy, providing this is done accurately and objectively. Sadly, the draft Information Paper on Homeopathy recently released by Australia’s National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) is based on an evidence review which fails on both these counts.

The Information Paper aims to communicate the findings from the NHMRC’s Overview Report: ‘Effectiveness of Homeopathy for Clinical Conditions: Evaluation of the Evidence’ to the general public. The NHMRC’s one sentence conclusion states that the evidence ‘fails to demonstrate that homeopathy is an effective treatment for any of the reported clinical conditions’.

Not only is this conclusion inaccurate, but it has been further distorted by mis-reporting in the media.

In plain English, the NHMRC concluded that, in thier opinion, the evidence does not yet tell us whether homeopathy works or not for the 61 conditions they considered; yet the media has reported this as the NHMRC having concluded that the evidence shows homeopathy does not work. These are two very different things.

The NHMRC conducted a review of reviews which does not accurately reflect the findings of the original research studies in homeopathy, which show that certain homeopathic treatments are indeed effective for certain conditions.

The HRI submission to the public consultation,

  • identifies the fundamental error in the process used by the NHMRC reviewers – analysing the results of trials on different homeopathic treatments together instead of separately – which lead to their inaccurate conclusion
  • identifies a series of amendments needed for the final version of the Infomation Paper to clearly and accurately explain to the public how the NHMRC reviewed and interpreted the evidence in order to reach their conclusions
  • suggests an amendment to the overall conclusion which would make the meaning clearer, thus prevent further misintepretation of the NHMC’s work in the future.

Being able to bring these issues to the attention of the NHMRC before this Information Paper is finalised, shows the importance of the public consultation process and HRI looks forward to liaising with the NHMRC as necessary during the process of finalising this document.

Read full text version of the HRI submission here.

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