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Much ado about nothing: The recent homeopathy debate – by Harald Walach

Von Prof. Dr. Dr. Harald Walach | 10.Juni 2006

Two simultaneously launched drum rolls have stirred the homeopathy community recently, both originating in tiny and otherwise rather marginal Switzerland, the Shang meta-analysis on the efficacy of homeopathy, and the political decision to remove complementary medicine, among them homeopathy, from public reimbursement 1. They both came out of the Program for the Evaluation of Complementary Medicine (Programm Evaluation Komplementärmedizin – PEK;see http://www.bag.admin.ch/kv/forschung/d/PEK.htm). Several loudly heard and not always well advised voices have proclaimed the end of homeopathy as a consequence. What is the significance, the substance, and the political background music?

Let us start with the latter. Seven years ago, the then minister of health of Switzerland, Ruth Dreyfuss started an investigative programme evaluating five complementary therapies common to Switzerland and central Europe – homeopathy, Traditional Chinese Medicine, phytotherapy, anthroposophy and neural therapy – were to be reimbursed by public health insurance for an experimental period of seven years. During that time the national experiment should be evaluated scientifically and afterwards a decision made, based on scientific facts. What happened was the following: The societies representing the complementary therapies fought with the administration about what would constitute the necessary evidence; the battle took some years. Part and parcel of the problem certainly was that the administration in charge of organising the scientific evaluation was also the regulating body for all health affairs in Switzerland, which did not really help. Also, the agency in charge of setting up the scientific evaluation was not one of the well known players in the field so building trust and mutual respect took the better part of three years. That left only part of the time for the evaluation, which had to be reduced further because of more time-consuming consensus processes and the negative approach of the ethics committee in charge.

Fortsetzung im ISCMR-Newsletter März 2006…

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  1. 81 Prozent der Schweizer für Komplementärmedizin in der Krankengrundversicherung - sondage santé 2008 | H.Blog: Homöopathie & Forschung schreibt:
    1st.Oktober 2008 um 8:39 am

    [...] Trotz dieser aus wissenschaftlicher Sicht positiven und solide evaluierten Ergebnisse wurde die Komplementärmedizin als Folge eines Machtwechsels und politischer Interventionen – besser »Intrigen« – nicht in die Grundabsicherung aufgenommen. Die delikaten Hintergründe schilderte Prof. Harald Walach in seinem lesenswerten Kommentar »Much ado about nothing: The recent homeopathy debate«: [...]

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