Discussions with Department of Health on homeopathy

Ben Goldacre made this Freedom of Information request to National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

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Dear Sir or Madam,

Mr O'Brian, Minister from the Dept of Health announced today at the Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee that there have been discussions between DH and NICE on whether NICE should look at the efficacy or effectiveness of homeopathy. He also alluded to the contents of these, and the view expressed by NICE.

Please can you send me any documents relating to this discussion.

Yours faithfully,

Dr Ben Goldacre

NICE Mail, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

[Subject only] Thank you for contacting NICE

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NICE Mail, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

Dear Dr Goldacre

Reference No: 27199

FREEDOM of INFORMATION ACT 2000

Thank you for your email dated 30/11/2009, in which you requested the following information:

Mr O'Brian, Minister from the Dept of Health announced today at the
Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee that there
have been discussions between DH and NICE on whether NICE should
look at the efficacy or effectiveness of homeopathy. He also
alluded to the contents of these, and the view expressed by NICE.

Please can you send me any documents relating to this discussion.

Your request will now be considered and you will receive a response within the statutory timescale of 20 working days as defined by the Act, subject to the information not being exempt or containing a reference to a third party. In some circumstances we may be unable to achieve this deadline. If this is likely you will be informed and given a revised time-scale at the earliest opportunity.

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Should you need to discuss this further please contact the Enquiry Handling team on 0845 003 7781.

Yours sincerely,

Enquiry Handling Team
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

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NICE Mail, National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

Dear Dr Goldacre

Reference No: 27199

FREEDOM of INFORMATION ACT 2000

I write in connection to your request for information dated 30/11/09 which asked our organisation for the following:

Mr O'Brian, Minister from the Dept of Health announced today at the
Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee that there
have been discussions between DH and NICE on whether NICE should
look at the efficacy or effectiveness of homeopathy. He also
alluded to the contents of these, and the view expressed by NICE.

Please can you send me any documents relating to this discussion.

Your request for information has now been considered and accepted with the following response being issued in compliance with the act.

Following a search of our records, we have established that recorded information relating to the discussion at the Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee, concerning discussions between the Department of Health and NICE on homeopathy, is not held by NICE.

It is our understanding that Mr Mike O’Brien is referring to the general position held by NICE, rather than as a result of any recent discussion between NICE and the Department of Health.

As you may be aware, NICE produces the following types of guidance:
• Clinical guidelines – recommendations about the treatment and care of people with specific diseases or conditions.
• Technology appraisal guidance and interventional procedures guidance – guidance on the use of new and existing medicines, treatments and procedures for specific diseases or conditions.
• Public health guidance – guidance on ways of helping people improve their health and reduce their risk of illness.

Although the methods for developing the various types of guidance differ, they are all underpinned by our key principles of basing recommendations on the best available evidence and involving stakeholders (patients and carers, healthcare professionals, the NHS and companies) in a transparent and collaborative manner. There is more information on the development processes for each of our guidance programmes on the NICE website: www.nice.org.uk.

Topics for guidance development (except for interventional procedures) are referred to NICE by the Secretary of State for Health, in line with the national priorities established for the NHS. You can read more about how guidance topics are chosen, and the Department of Health’s criteria, at the following link:
http://www.nice.org.uk/aboutnice/howwewo...

At present NICE has not been asked to develop specific guidance of any kind on the subject of complementary therapies, or specifically on homeopathy.

However, NICE has made some recommendations within clinical guidelines on where some complementary therapies do and don’t add benefit in relation to specific conditions.

For example, NICE has published a clinical guideline on the ‘Surgical management of children with otitis media with effusion (OME)’ (CG60). Within this guideline, the following recommendation is made: "Do not offer the following for OME: antibiotics, antihistamines, decongestants, steroids, homeopathy, cranial osteopathy, acupuncture, dietary modification, immunostimulants, massage". For further information on this guideline, please refer to the following link: http://guidance.nice.org.uk/CG60

Other examples include the guideline on Chronic fatigue syndrome / Myalgic encephalomyelitis (CG53) [ http://guidance.nice.org.uk/CG53 ] and guideline on Atopic eczema in children (CG57) [ http://guidance.nice.org.uk/CG57 ].

The evidence behind the recommendations made can be found in the Full Guideline documents. These are available to download on the NICE website, via the above links.

The response time for your request on this occasion was 16 working days.

I hope this correspondence has answered all the issues raised in your original request. If you would like to discuss your enquiry further please contact the Enquiry Handling team on 0845 003 7781 or via [NICE request email]

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Alana Christopher
Associate Director, Corporate Office
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence
MidCity Place
71 High Holborn
London WC1V 6NA
Email: [email address]

Once we have received your complaint, you will be sent an acknowledgement within two working days. The Associate Director, Corporate Office, will review your complaint and a full reply will be sent to you within 20 working days.

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Regards,

Enquiry Handling Team
National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence

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Ben Goldacre left an annotation ()

So it's the homeopathy pill manufacturers who test to see if people understand the meaning of the labels, not the MHRA.

I've requested their tests and look forward to reading them a great deal.

Anders Jacobsen left an annotation ()

The quote

"Topics for guidance development (except for interventional procedures) are referred to NICE by the Secretary of State for Health, in line with the national priorities established for the NHS. [...] At present NICE has not been asked to develop specific guidance of any kind on the subject of complementary therapies, or specifically on homeopathy."

just begs for a petition to local MPs and/or to the Secretary of State for Health, Rt Hon Andy Burnham MP? I shall write my MP immediately to suggest she picks this up. In fact - while we are at it - let's write a random lord, too...? http://www.writetothem.com/

lotus left an annotation ()

NICE: "Following a search of our records, we have established that recorded information relating to the discussion at the Parliamentary Science and Technology Select Committee, concerning discussions between the Department of Health and NICE on homeopathy, is not held by NICE"

Early Day Motion
EDM 908 SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COMMITTEE REPORT ON HOMEOPATHY23.02.2010

From http://edmi.parliament.uk/EDMi/EDMDetail...

"Tredinnick, David
That this House expresses concern at the conclusions of the Science and Technology Committee's Report, Evidence Check on Homeopathy; notes that the Committee took only oral evidence from a limited number of witnesses, including known critics of homeopathy Tracy Brown, the Managing Director of Sense About Science, and journalist Dr Ben Goldacre, who have no expertise in the subject; believes that evidence should have been heard from primary care trusts that commission homeopathy, doctors who use it in a primary care setting, and other relevant organisations, such as the Society of Homeopaths, to provide balance; observes that the Committee did not consider evidence from abroad from countries such as France and Germany, where provision of homeopathy is far more widespread than in the UK, or from India, where it is part of the health service; regrets that the Committee ignored the 74 randomised controlled trials comparing homeopathy with placebo, of which 63 showed homeopathic treatments were effective, and that the Committee recommends no further research; further notes that 206 hon. Members signed Early Day Motion No. 1240 in support of NHS homeopathic hospitals in Session 2006-07; and calls on the Government to maintain its policy of allowing decision-making on individual clinical interventions, including homeopathy, to remain in the hands of local NHS service providers and practitioners who are best placed to know their community's needs."

The Science and Technology Committee is funding research to introduce nanomaterials and nanotechnologies into the food chain, see http://www.parliament.uk/documents/uploa...

If the Science and Technology Committee's activities are outside the scrutiny of NICE and expensive modern medicines will be replaced with cheap nanomaterials and nanotechnology which can modify physical and mental processes in the human body from "Government industry-led contaminated foods and drinks", surely NICE ought to know about the impending invasion of the Science and Technology Committee through the back door.