Homeopathy on the attack

In many discussions of homoeopathy and other forms of CAM, one of the first comments in the discussion is the evils committed by Big Pharma. Those of us on the side of modern medicine also condemn such practices while pointing out that, while it may take some time, science will ultimately provide the correct answers. For their transgressions these companies have suffered serious fines and expensive class action lawsuits. As long as the profits are large, there will be more incidences, and caution must be exercised, especially for the latest and greatest cures. Ultimately though, pharmaceuticals have increased both longevity and quality of life.

CAM producers, on the other hand are promoted as being pure as the driven snow, motivated purely by their desire to help people. As anyone who gives even a moments thought to that concept will realize, most companies are motivated by profit, not altruism. From Germany, we have a perfect example of this. Six manufacturers of homoeopathic treatments have been discovered hiring a pseudo-journalist to promote their products and protect their profits by attacking one of their more scientifically minded and outspoken critics, Edzard Ernst.

From a Google translation from Süddeutche Zeitung

The German company Homeopathic Union (DHU) and Biological Remedies Heel support CAM Media. Watch financially. ” Other sponsors are the companies Staufen Pharma, WALA Remedies, Weleda and Hevert. Fritzsche receives 43,000 euros per year from these six manufacturers of homeopathic products.

More (in English) from Andy Lewis at Quackometer

The newspaper accuses the companies of funding the journalist, Claus Fritzsche, to denigrate critics of homeopathy. In particular, the accusation is that Fritzsche wrote about UK academic Professor Edzard Ernst on several web sites and then linked them together in order to raise their Google ranking. Fritzsche continually attacks Ernst of being frivolous, incompetent and partisan….

Ernst has pioneered and championed the idea that alternative medicine can be subject to the same rigours of evidence-based medicine as any other treatment. He has produced many systematic reviews of treatments that draw together all available evidence to assess what overall conclusions it is possible to come to. When the evidence has been positive, he has said so. But his problem has been that, for a wide range of treatments, including homeopathy, the evidence is overwhelmingly negative, non-existent, or at best, inconclusive.

Ernst has not had an easy time over the past years as he stood up for the lack of evidence for most forms of CAM, but particularly homoeopathy.

For his efforts, Ernst is continuously attacked. The Vice-Chancellor of Exeter has been written to by foaming homeopaths. His blogs for the GP magazine, Pulse, see a hoard of homeopaths turn up for every article to shout their abuse. But most worryingly, Ernst was attacked by Prince Charles when he was critical of a politicised report into the funding of alternative medicine by the NHS, insitigated by Charles, and funded by Dame Shirley Porter. Prince Charles’s principal private secretary, Sir Michael Peat, sent a letter to Exeter that almost cost him his job.

Lewis has much more

I spoke to Edzard about these revelations that homeopathy companies are funding his attackers. In particular, he noted how Fritzsche conducted an interview with him that resulted in an article that suggested Ernst had been lying about having homeopathic qualifications. The article was published in the Deutscher Zentralverein homöopathischer Ärzte (German National Association of Homeopathic Physicians) which presented Ernst as having no qualifications, of misleading people about them, and not being fit to judge homeopathy. Ernst claims that the discussion he had was misrepresented in the write-up of the interview which resulted in him looking as if he was being defensive about his qualifications.

UK Homeopaths have jumped on this with gusto in order to discredit Ernst. Of course it is nonsense. Ernst started his career in a homeopathic hospital in Germany, and is fully familiar with its claims. He was accepted into Exeter because of his skills and experiences. But to claim that he cannot speak about homeopathy because he has not formally trained in such areas is to insist that you have a degree in Invisible Imperial Textiles before mentioning the Emperor has no clothes on.

The CAM Media.Watch blog states that it is a blog for journalists to challenge the misrepresentations of alternative medicine in the media and to address ‘grievances’. In practice, the blog attacks, not just Ernst, but journalists who do not uncritically promote pseudoscientific therapies. When Max Rauner wrote an article in ZEIT discussing Edzard Ernst and his critics, Fritzsche attacked the piece. Ernst said to me that there were at least 31 ‘untruths’ in that response about him.

There are some people who have a faith in homoeopathy and no amount of science will ever change their minds. These include those who label themselves as healers who use homoeopathy exclusively and Naturopaths, who use homoeopathy as a part of their repertoire.

There is no science behind homoeopathy and there is no honour among thieves.

This entry was posted in Pseudoscience and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Homeopathy on the attack

  1. Iqbal says:

    I am amazed that you write about Andy Lewis as if he was an authority in medical science.

  2. Iqbal says:

    Mr. Andy Lewis writes about himself:

    The Quackometer and blog are experiments in critical thinking. (Whose?) I very rarely venture past using a basic understanding of science. (Limitation?)As such, being critical of health claims rarely needs detailed medical knowledge and, as I hope this is something we can all take part in and debate. (Unbelievable-some doctors would be turning in their graves!!)
    A common response to my posts has been to question my qualifications for writing. This is known as an ad hominem attack and I will always try not to engage. (You will always not try to engage because you KNOW you have NO capability to engage on this subject. Self preservation?)
    Our food today is either OK to eat or worryingly nutrient poor. The certificates on my study wall have nothing to do with this. ( I would take comments of a specialist in nutrition. For Andy it is his car mechanic, barber, the garbage cleaner, and his butcher -in this order.)

    Again , For this reason, I do not want to offer chances for my critics to start fights about my education. (You would not start a fight you are sure to lose?)

  3. In this case, Mr Lewis’ story is not about medical science. It is about the companies who have hired a pseudo-reporter top attack the credentials of Edzard Ernst. This is a case of straight up journalism.

  4. Iqbal says:

    What are the capabilities of Edzard Ernst?

    I would suggest you read some of the articles written by Dr, Hegde ( http://bmhegde.com) on blood pressure, diabetes and vaccination to understand the medical world and then cry about what Andy Lewis is writing.

    Incidentally how would you know Andy lewis is not paid for his writings?

    • I have no idea what point or points you are trying to make.
      1. i have no idea what the capabilities Edzard Ernst are beyond his ability to see through the garbage that is homoeopathy.
      2. What does Hedge have to do with anything?
      3. Lewis is reporting on an article written in a German Newspaper. What difference does it make what he does to pay the bills?

  5. krucz36 says:

    Seeing as the CAM proponents have little to no evidence to support their claims, hiring people to attack the messenger is their only recourse to get their fraudulent treatments into minds of potential victims. Even here, in your blogs comments, all they can do is attack the messenger. It’s because they can’t offer any facts. They don’t have any supporting facts.

  6. Eli says:

    On the defence, more like.

  7. Anthony. says:

    There is plenty of science behind homeopathy, but current scientific beliefs have not explored this area at all. Because it works in a different way to what scientists are used to, they tend to dismiss it. But others are looking into the idea of memory in water molecules. Meanwhile, many things work even though we don’t understand them.

    • There have been numerous studies on homoeopathy, the goods ones all negative. It has been said many times that to accept homoeopathy is to reject much of chemistry, physics, and biology. It cannot be said often enough, the effects of homoeopathy are entirely based upon the placebo effect.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s