The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is an executive agency of the Department of Health). It is roughly the UK equivalent of the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) in the USA.
The MHRA has just betrayed the trust placed in it by the public by allowing untrue claims to be put on the labels of homeopathis and herbal treatments, apparently under pressure from the government and the Prince of Wales, as described below, and here. The cause such outrage that the MHRA was censured by an annulment debate in the House of Lords, It also caused condemnations to be issued by the many learned societies, most of which you can read at the links here. For example, Royal Society, the Medical Research Council, the Academy of Medical Sciences, the Royal College of Pathologists, the Biosciences Federation (which represents 40 affiliated societies), the Physiological Society and the British Pharmacological Society.
In contrast, the main medical organisations have kept disgracefully silent. Nothing has been heard from the British Medical Association (I hear that a move to say something was heavily defeated). Nothing either from the Royal College of General Practitioners or from the Royal Society of Medicine.
The Physiological Society ‘s Newsletter for December 2006 published and excellent leading article ‘Homeopathic mumbo-jumbo], by Austin Elliott [read it here].
|The Physiological Societyâ€œThe Physiological Society is concerned with the scientific investigation of how the body works “It is our view that “alternative medicine” has, with very few exceptions, no scientific foundation, either empirical or theoretical. As an extreme example, many homeopathic medicines contain no molecules of their ingredient, so they can have no effect (beyond that of a placebo). To claim otherwise it would be necessary to abandon the entire molecular basis of chemistry. The Society believes that any claim made for a medicine must be based on evidence, and that it is a duty of the regulatory authorities to ensure that this is done.”
Austin Elliott comments thus.
“And as the web site of the European Council for Classical Homeopathy (6) puts it: ˜To make such a claim, the manufacturers need only show that the product has been used to treat those particular conditions within the homeopathic industry. No scientific basis. No clinical trials. No evidence of effectiveness.
The homeopaths, and the companies that produce over-the-counter homeopathic remedies, are understandably delighted.
Well, you might say, so what? The placebo effect is not new, and a fool and his/her money are soon parted. Most scientists would agree that the labelling is a joke, but in a world awash with ridiculous claims, why get worked up?
Well, firstly, perhaps, because the MHRA, acting on our behalf, is supposed to care -their web site states they ‘enhance and safeguard the health of the public by ensuring that medicines and medical devices work, and are acceptably safe’.
Secondly, . . . there is a principle at stake, namely that decisions of this kind should b made on the basis of scientific and medical evidence and understanding.”