Homeopathy: Medicine for the 21st Century
Access to homeopathic medicines is under threat
A number of Medicines Acts are being consoidated and simplified, which is a good thing because much duplication is being removed. However, as a result there are some key elements which could adversely affect access to homeopathic medicines if the proposals go into force as they stand.
If the current proposals by the MHRA are endorsed by government the following would occur:
You would no longer able to get homeopathic medicines by phone or online
To get any unlicensed homeopathic medicine a face-to-face consultation would be required at a registered pharmacy. Unlicensed medicines number in the thousands and make up the majority of homeopathic prescriptions, while there are only 50 licenced homeopathic medicines. This will also mean you cannot legally buy unlicensed homeopathic medicines online or over the phone as you currently do.
Homeopaths would not be able to dispense or prescribe medicines
Homeopathic practitioners would not be able to dispense unlicensed homeopathic medicines to their patients. This arises because homeopaths are not recognised by this law as being supplementary prescribers and it will be illegal for homeopathic pharmacies to supply them with the essential (unlicensed) medicines required for their patients.
Patients would have to get homeopathic medicines personally at a handful of licenced homeopathic pharmacies in Britain
Hundreds of thousands of people who currently have prescriptions filled for unlicensed homeopathic medicines will be unable to obtain their urgent medicines. The estimated 6 million users of homeopathy in Britain cannot be expected to be supplied medicines face-to-face by less than five licenced premises.
H:MC21 has called a lobby of Parliament!
The lobby will be on 4 July 2012 from 4 p.m.
It will be welcomed by David Tredinnick MP and John McDonnell MP, and Committee Room 6 has been booked from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.
More information about the lobby is available on the Lobby Details page.
The issue is not relevant only to homeopaths and their patients.
Six million people in the UK use homeopathy each year, and only a minority of them manage to get it through the NHS, although they are all entitled to. The difficulties in getting NHS homeopathic treatment mean that they have decided to pay to receive the healthcare of their choice.
These proposed Regulations will severely limit access to homeopathy for these patients who pay for homeopathy, and so millions of people will have to turn back to the NHS, at a time when the NHS is trying to make savings.
If these patients are forced to have orthodox medicine, the cost will be enormous. Assuming that those who seek homeopathic treatment have the same range of illnesses as those who do not, then the NHS could face an increase in its annual drugs bill of around £1 billion and an increase in the costs of treating side-effects of around £200 million per year, as well as the increased strain of having to see 10% more patients! This is a massive and totally unnecessary expense.
If these patients want to have homeopathic treatment through the NHS, most of them will find that it is extremely difficult. Despite all the official support for patient choice, and all the evidence of homeopathy's effectiveness, attempts to stop homeopathy being available on the NHS are continuing in individual Primary Care Trusts across the country - even in defiance of legal obligations.
In addition, some patients have turned to homeopathy because orthodox medicine has failed to help them. Within the NHS the majority of patients who do manage to get homeopathic treatment have already failed to get better through orthodox medical treatment, and there is consistent evidence that around 70% of patients benefit from homeopathy.
Some patients have turned to homeopathy because they believed that the risks of orthodox medicine outweighed the benefits. When the NHS spends around £2 billion per year on treating the side effects of orthodox drug treatments, this is not an unreasonable attitude.
In the end this issue is just another part of the attack on homeopathy H:MC21 has been fighting for the last five years. The consolidation of legislation by the MHRA has taken place in the context on the highly suspect Commons Science and Technology Committee report on homeopathy, and this appears to have compromised attempts to produce sensible regulations.
Whether or not you agree with homeopathy, if you want to defend choice in medicine you should support this lobby.
Proposed new Medicines Regulations