Facts about the NHMRC Homeopathy Review

The Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) has issued guidelines as part of its Choosing Wisely campaign recommending not to ‘promote or provide homeopathic products as there is no reliable evidence of efficacy’, exclusively citing the 2015 National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Homeopathy Review.

The PSA recommendation is inaccurate and highly selective in omitting reference to broader positive and up to date research evidence. The following facts concerning the 2015 NHMRC Homeopathy Review should be noted:

  • No original research papers were retrieved or assessed
  • Secondary sources (systematic reviews) were exclusively relied upon, most of which (88%) the reviewer assessed to be ‘poor quality’ and therefore not fit for purpose.
  • NHMRC said the findings were based on a “rigorous assessment of over 1800 studies”. In fact results were based on only 176 studies. Effectiveness studies, basic research (e.g. in vitro, animal, plant, cell, physico-chemical studies), as well as cost-effectiveness, safety and quality studies were all excluded.
  • The main Review did not include any studies published post-2012 and is therefore years out of date.

The NHMRC Statement on Homeopathy cited by the PSA, which states that people ‘may put their life at risk’ by using homeopathy or homeopathic products, represents opinion and is not evidence based. This is because the NHMRC Review did not assess any safety data. Homeopathy has an exemplary safety record internationally.

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