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Adverse effect on access to homoeopathic medicines due to the simplification of The Medicines Act 1968

The Medicines Act 1968 is being simplified, which is a good thing because a lot of duplication is being removed. However, as a result, there are some important elements which could adversely affect your access to homeopathic medicines if the proposals come into force.

What will happen to my access to homeopathic medicines?

If the current proposals by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) are endorsed by the 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 licensed 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 to you

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

* You would have to get your 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 licensed premises.

What you can do to stop this from happening!

Write to your MP and tell him or her your views - especially if your MP sits on the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments or is involved with Health or pharmacy.

All that needs to be done is a small change to Section 10 of the proposed new Medicines Act to allow greater freedom to dispense remedies to practitioners andto also overcome the face-to-face issue which is unworkable.

It is anticipated that the new Medicines Act will be put before the Joint Committee on Statutory Instruments for approval in late May/early June for implementation in July, so your swift action is critical!

Write to your MP: Medicines Act consolidation 2012

A few helpful points that could be used in your letter

It is not necessary or recommended to include all the points suggested here. It is very important that you personalise your letter with your own views and experiences. Overall, try to keep the letter short (a page or less), and emphasise any points
that are relevant to your particular MP.

* I'm deeply concerned that a draft proposal set out by the MHRA, as part of its consolidation and review of the Medicines Act 1968, could have a significant impact on my ability as a patient to access homeopathic medicines in the UK.

* In its current form Section 10 of the proposal would only allow unlicensed homeopathic medicines to be bought directly from a pharmacist face-to-face, in effect outlawing the purchase of these medicines over the telephone or via online ordering. This would mean I would be deprived of access to the medicines that I have
found to be so beneficial to my health.

* There are only five homeopathic pharmacies in the UK, so most homeopathic medicines are ordered from these specialist pharmacies either by phone or via the Internet. Therefore the enforcement of section 10 in its current form will have serious consequences for the six million people in the UK who choose to use this form of complementary medicine.

* If not revised the proposal would also have serious consequences for more than 2,000 homeopathic practitioners, many of whom would find it impossible to treat patients like myself because they can no longer obtain the appropriate homeopathic medicine.

* I understand that a central plank of the Government health policy is to increase patient choice. Section 10 will eliminate choice for people like me who want to be treated with homeopathy.

* In view of the tight timetable for approval, I would like to call on your urgent support in getting the Health Minister to revise slightly the proposed language of the revised Medicines Act to ensure that I have continued access to a full range of homeopathic medicines and my right to choose homeopathic treatment is maintained.

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      • M Stanbrook commented  · 

        Homeopathy is dangerous quackery. Anyone using it should consult a DOCTOR. If your homeopath claims to BE a doctor they are lying and can be prosecuted for doing so.
        The job of NICE and other medical bodies is to assess medication for effectiveness. Homeopathy has failed every single controlled double-blinded study it has been subjected to. Here in the 21st century why are people still falling to snake-oil salesmen? Because the industry is insufficiently regulated. We need to stop people selling products which are ingested but have NONE of the controls that food has over it.

        A recent study of alternative medicine showed that more than 60% of alternative medicines contained none of the ingredients it claimed to have. Homeopathic remedies on the other hand ALWAYS contain nothing except water. Water does not have a memory. No homeopath has ever managed to come up with a coherent idea of how it MIGHT work, let alone get as far as testing it using a rigourous protocol. Nothing within any field of scientific endeavour even suggests that such a thing may be possible and those of us with some education are getting tired of debunking it daily.

      • Diane Colover commented  · 

        Homeopathy does work. I have witnessed an elderly woman, with severe dementia recover from an MRSA infection in 6 weeks using just homeopathy. This could not have been a placebo effect as the woman in question was very confused.

        This campaign is important

      • tom hope commented  · 

        SAY no to gays as it SAYS in bible it is aSIN to be GAY

      • Blanche commented  · 

        I do not just believe homeopathy works, I KNOW it works. I and my family just like everyone else have paid into the NHS and therefore we should be entitled to have the type of treatment we believe is the best should we become ill. Fortunately homeopathy has kept us all very healthy and not needing the NHS for the last twenty years saving the NHS a fortune.

      • Plasticbadger commented  · 

        Blanche, I assure you I am not ignorant on this subject. I fully support the right of people to follow whatever alternatives they wish, but when such alternatives are ineffective then they do become dangerous ( the recent case in the news of the child with a brain tumour illustrates this perfectly & depressingly ). Just because people believe something works does not make it so, see religion / voodoo / clairvoyance etc. If you want to take a sugar pill with NO active ingredient; as an individual's free choice then fine, but please respect others and their choices & do not expect the NHS to fund your beliefs.

      • Blanche commented  · 

        Such ignorance, it is not "dangerous stuff" it heals gently and quickly unlike pharmaceutical drugs which kill hundreds of thousands of people annually . Homeopathy has been an effective system of healing for more than two centuries. It is used by millions of people around the world and should be available to all that wish to use it.

      • Plasticbadger commented  · 

        Sounds like a good thing - this magic memory- water sugar pill quackery is dangerous stuff. The fact that it leaches NHS money is obscene.

      • Martin Kostyrka commented  · 

        This is criminal. Natural cures should be allowed whether you believe in them or not. The point is we are all being slowly murdered by the pill pushing, money grabbing pharma who banned homeopathic medicine in the USA in 1913 so they could cash in on flogging pills.

      • Anonymous commented  · 

        Homeopathic medicines are not medicine. They are placebos, and effective only for psychosomatic conditions.

      • Anonymous commented  · 

        It is a shame that it is not possible to down-vote this campaign. Anyone who believes in homeopathic remedies is a gullible fool.

      • Anonymous commented  · 

        It is a shame that it is not possible to down-vote this campaign. Anyone who believes in homeopathic remedies is a gullible fool.

      • Anonymous commented  · 

        It is a shame that it is not possible to down-vote this campaign. Anyone who believes in homeopathic remedies is a gullible fool.

      • Guy Chapman commented  · 

        Late in the day I know, but the same old disinformation is being trotted out below. The simplification of the regulations changes nothing: the supply of unlicensed homeopathic remedies is already illegal, homeopaths have known it is illegal since the 70s, they have had decades to regularise the situation by applying for licenses (which, unlike medicines, require absolutely no demonstration of efficacy whatsoever), and they have chosen instead to simply keep breaking the law.

        I fail to see why we should bend over backwards to accommodate people carrying out an illegal trade. Homeopaths have repeatedly have shown themselves to be utterly without scruples, for example selling bogus "homeoprophylaxis" against malaria with the result that people have suffered serious health damage and even died.

        Fortunately it is very unlikely that this will ever be taken on by 38degrees.

      • Anonymous commented  · 

        The campaign is about continuing to have access to homeopathic medicines over the counter without prescription which is a right of choice. Homeopaths would not be affected by the changes if they were implemented but the public's right to choose would.

      • Anonymous commented  · 

        As this campaign suggestion and all the blog posts, tweets and other stuff being spread around by homeopaths and their trade bodies shows, there has been a bit of a panic. We now know this was based on a complete misunderstanding (inadvertent or otherwise) of the consolidation of the medicines regs.

        Although this particular debate may now be finished, it is by no means the end. What Anne Milton's statement did not say anything about was what is actually currently permitted - and what is not.

      • Blanche commented  · 

        Anonymous, here is one homeopath who I can assure you has not been whipped into any frenzy.

        I will continue to prescribe for my patients whenever are sick and require my help. I would welcome anybody trying to stop me, they may find they have bitten off more than they could chew.

        And as Anne Milton has clarified the Government's ruling on this situation it is time to finish this debate.

      • Anonymous commented  · 

        Oh look! An MP asked a question in the House of Commons on Tuesday:

        "To ask the Secretary of State for Health what steps he is taking to ensure that access to homeopathic medicines is not restricted."

        And Anne Milton (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Public Health)) replied:

        "There are no planned changes to either the current regulatory status or the longstanding regulations governing the access to, or the sale and supply of, homeopathic products. Provision for homeopathic products is set out in Directive 2001/83/EC as amended by 2004/27/EC Directive 2001/83/EC. Activities currently permitted will continue to be permitted."

        All these homeopaths being whipped up into a frenzy over nothing.

      • William LaChenal commented  · 


        This is the best analysis I've seen in the matter of law:

        Most people (apart from opponents of homeopathy, whatever was driving them) were happy with the original law which recognised the special status of homeopathic remedies (whatever the semantics), but this was displaced by a ruling which looks to me to have origins in Codex-speak.
        You may safely assume that Codex bearers do not look favourably upon any modality which cures without being controlled by big business (even if that is merely coincidence).

        http://www.homeopathyheals.me.uk has this to say:
        The problem started when the EU Human Medicinal Products Directive 2001/83/EC was amended by EU Directive 2004/27/EC in Article 1, Clause 2
        2. Medicinal product:
        (a) "Any substance or combination of substances presented as having properties
        for treating or preventing disease in human beings."

        It also makes the point about pre-existing (badly-drafted?) regulations not having been enforced. I am confident knives are at this very moment being sharpened, we shall see how that goes.

        Regarding PLRs: Since legislation governing the UK is becoming more and more Napoleonic, with government the source of all rights (and the people having none but what is granted, as for example in the EU THMPD etc.), it is moot whether absence from law means absence from legality.

        I confess I've only now read MLX312 which is quite interesting. Trolls in there, even.

        I also note that the "Consultation List annex I" has only homeopathic representation of homeopaths, which is fairly typical of these things.

        ~( http://www.mhra.gov.uk/Publications/Consultations/Medicinesconsultations/MLXs/CON132054 )~

      • Alex commented  · 


        Since it was an EU Directive, I presume it was homeopaths within the EU (of which the UK is part, of course).

        The consolidated Act says nothing about homeopathy PLRs so it's not that that will end them. Do you know if homeopathic product manufacturers are doing anything about this?

      • William LaChenal commented  · 

        It's interesting you should say that "the whole regulatory scheme was at the behest of homeopaths", certainly not any of the homeopaths I know.
        Perhaps you could fill me in on some detail there? Do you mean in England or elsewhere?

        By and large, we only want to make people well by the methods we use. Any sensible Alt Med practitioner has every reason to be wary of the kind of over-"regulation" which would make it impossible for them to do so.
        Regulations are really the toys of regulators, prohibitionists, not physicians (IMO), though we may take it as read that, as a rule, if we as homeopaths were to kill and damage as many people as the pharmacy movement (pro rata), it would give us a very bad reputation. Most of the rest is just concoction.

        As for wanting our little pills and drops to be called "medicine", again, I know of no-one that wants that. We make quite a clear distinction, for good reason; the intended modes of action are quite different, ours is for enhancing life, theirs is for killing enemies. Also there is no particular connection to the original benefaction & controls of alchemy established by by the Medici family.
        It's true however that some in India do like to call them "drugs". I have no idea why, just a language thing.

        Homeopaths do complain about having our remedies (forgive me, I'll continue to use the correct term), having our remedies regulated "in the same way" as pharmaceutical drugs. It isn't that we want to indulge in some irrational special pleading - it is that our little remedies, cures, do not carry the same inherent risks as the more chemical (material) interventions. I think I am right in saying that most regulation stems from a desire to stop allopaths from killing people or making them more ill than they started, a habit of which they have a long history.

        Just anecdotally, did you know that soon after Radium was isolated, some clever little chemists decided it should make a wonderful oral tonic mixture (more than one, in fact, a teaspoonfule with each meal, every day) because of all that strange "energy" it contained. The products did not last long, after inevitably losing popularity, though I understand the general approach survives to this day. Had they been homeopaths, they would not have wrought so much damage in the search for profit. (..be wreaking..)

        That's still the game with what has somehow come to be called "conventional" medicine, and very profitable it is, too, though naturally, many practitioners keep in mind the best of intentions as they have their eight minutes to make a sale.

        Loaded on top of that is the assumption that a "medicine" must be effective at killing. By that way of thought, if it cannot demonstrably kill a disease, it has very little marketing potential. Homeopathic remedies work in a different way, and are highly individualised to the patient, not the disease or vector.
        (That's an over-simplification, but is in essence true.)
        A structure of testing has been built up to exhibit the former - a killing (economic) yield in a general population - it is for mathematical as well as idealogical reasons inapplicable to individualised (holistic) methodology & prescription.
        The nub of the complaint then, is that we would be unhappy for any of our remedies to have to jump through the hoop addressing a specific named disease indication, because that is not how they work.
        (Fishes & bicycles come to mind, somewhat inappropriately. Perhaps it's the references to statistical inference and information theory at play.)
        Thus, under the current regulatory system, the majority of very useful remedies are never going to be licensed in a month of Sundays.
        I suspect we would be less unhappy to have them tested against an appropriate homeopathic indication, which is attached more to the person and their health circumstances, less to the complaint. I don't know of any such well-conditioned research, and despite my scientific curiousity, I don't see much point in that as compared to clinical experience. Even apart from the practical & financial problems involved.

        PLRs then, for the most part the children of wrong-headed assumptions from the start except in as far as grandfathering goes, probably will go with the introduction of the 2012 Act, though stock may stay on shelves for some time.

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