Finally, the report on the funding of homeopathy in the UK is to recommend the withdrawal of support from the National Health Services. Patients seeking this form of “treatment” will need to pay for it themselves. Hurrah I hear you all calling but before we start cracking open the celebratory bottles, I think that hopeopathy (which after all is how it works) is not likely to disappear. At the risk of attracting the anger and ridicule of the anti-homeopath lobby, let’s remember a couple of things. First, it works… not because of any supernatural mechanism of sympathies and infinite dilutions. People who believe in it get better. Second, some of the established medicines, most notably SSRI anti-depressants also work not much better than the placebo effect according to recent meta-analyses which throws a spanner in the works somewhat. Third, paying for something makes it more effective than free treatments. (I am reminded about the fact that a £16,000 bomb-detector is considered more effective than one that is made from a coat-hanger). Finally, the way the NHS is going, soon we will all be directly paying for our treatments, one way or another through various health plans etc. So while this may be a victory for evidence-based medicine, I do not think it will disappear. What do you think?
I am adding this video from Ben Goldacre for clarity and to address some of the questions raised in the comments.