MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

Natural Pharmacy Business reported that the UK homeopathic pharmacy, Helios, has just launched 5 new combination remedies. Nothing exciting about that, you might say. But wait, these products have licences from the UK regulator and are thus allowed to make therapeutic claims. A spokesperson for Helios was quoted as stating about the new products that ‘…we can actually say what they do, making it easier for customers to recommend or choose what is needed.’

A closer look at the Helios website reveals more details. The 5 remedies are described as follows:

1) Helios Injury 30c – Arnica, Rhus tox and Ruta grav are combined to form a homeopathic medicinal product used within the homeopathic tradition for the symptomatic relief of pains and minor trauma associated with minor injuries, bruises, strains and sprains as well as minor emotional trauma associated with the above. The remedy comes in lactose free, organic sucrose pills in our easy to use single dose dispenser in 30c potency.

2) Helios Sleep 30c – Avena sativa, Coffea, Passiflora and Valarian are combined to form a homeopathic medicinal product used within the homeopathic tradition for the symptomatic relief of temporary sleep disturbances wherever you are. The remedy comes in lactose free, organic sucrose pills in our easy to use single dose dispenser in 30c potency. This product is not recommended for children under 18, please call us for advice for use in children.

3) Helios ABC 30c  – Aconite, Belladonna and Chamomilla are combined to form a homeopathic medicinal product used within the homeopathic tradition for the symptomatic relief of minor feverish illness and/or minor earache in children up to 12 years and for symptoms associated with teething in infants or toddlers. The remedy comes in lactose free, organic sucrose pills in our easy to use single dose dispenser in 30c potency. Remedies for babies may be dissolved in half a teaspoon of previously boiled, cooled water.

4) Helios Stress Relief 30c –  Aconite, Arg nit and Arsenicum are combined to form a homeopathic medicinal product used within the homeopathic tradition for the symptomatic relief of symptoms associated with mild stress. The remedy comes in lactose free, organic sucrose pills in our easy to use 4gm single dose dispenser in 30c potency. This product is not recommended for children under 18, please call us for advice for use in children.

5) Helios Hay Fever 30c –  Allium cepa, Euphrasia and Sabadilla are combined to form a homeopathic medicinal product used within the homeopathic tradition for the symptomatic relief of Hay Fever. The remedy comes in lactose free, organic sucrose pills in our easy to use single dose dispenser in 30c potency.

So, now they are entitled to tell us what these remedies actually do!!!

Interesting!

Interesting, because what they do tell us is actually not true. If you look critically at the evidence, you are inevitably going to arrive at entirely different verdicts about the effectiveness of these remedies: THEY ACTUALLY DO NOTHING!

(No, buying them does something to you bank balance, but that’s all)

Consumers are being seriously ripped off and misled here to believe that these homeopathics might actually be needed in cases of illness: THE TRUTH IS THAT THERE IS NO CONDITION FOR WHICH THEY HAVE BEEN PROVEN TO BE EFFECTIVE!

Why did the regulator grant them a licence and allow them to make such claims?

Perhaps someone from the MHRA has the kindness to enlighten us.

22 Responses to The UK regulator has given licences to 5 homeopathic placebos

  • Friends told me a year or so back that there is a homeopathic quackshop in Glasgow that has a sign outside saying ‘INFORMED BY SCIENCE’.

    • maybe someone could change it to
      MISINFORMED BY CHERRY-PICKING

      • Reading Goldacre on Big Quacka’s continuing attack on Simon Singh and others, and the attempts to silence them with ruinously expensive libel laws.
        Would it not be possible to set up some kind of defence fund so these people don’t lose their livelihood/houses etc simply because they criticised idiots and charlatans?
        Pissing in the ocean, probably.
        But better than nothing?

    • Someone should add “, but not listening”.

  • It will be interesting to see what evidence the MHRA are going to give to the government’s forthcoming inquiry on HP remedies use in the NHS.
    Is there any news as to what is happening about this?

    Ideally all those with an opinion (Ernst, Rawlins, Singh, Colquhoun, Henness, Lewis et al) should try and prepare a single document stating a consensus.
    Realistically that is unlikely to happen, so perhaps we should all make sure each of us reads each other’s evidence and that a journalist (Singh?) provides a summary of all, if not an actual consensus.

    I will submit chapter 10 from my book “Real Secrets of Alternative Medicine” (which covers the history, philosophy and logical fallacies of the faith, and is currently at printer’s proof stage) and BMA policy (which I wrote – ‘no NHS HP remedies unless and until NICE reports on their cost benefit’).

  • Sorry to be pedantic, but the MHRA has not licensed ‘homeopathic placebos’ – they have licensed placebos full stop.

    HPs (homeopathic preparations/products) are placebos. The fact that the manufacturers claim they have prepared them by a particular method is irrelevant. HPs have no effect – though the ritual involved in taking them may.
    That is the case with any faith, and to some extent, with genuine pharmaceuticals.

    Next stop – for the MHRA to licence communion wine and wafers – and we all know what is in them!

  • A small correction: the MHRA hasn’t just issued these National Rules scheme authorisations. They were issued on the following dates (see the relevant MHRA Public Assessment Report):

    1) Helios Injury 30c – 18 October 2012
    2) Helios Sleep 30c – 01 April 2014
    3) Helios ABC 30c – 26 November 2013
    4) Helios Stress Relief 30c – 06 August 2013
    5) Helios Hay Fever 30c – 16 January 2014

    It does raise the question as to why Helios have taken so long to bring these wondrous new products to market…

    And presumably the Hahnemann fundamentalists will be up in arms that Helios should have the gall to produce combination remedies?

    • thanks Alan for clarifying this – I will make a few changes to correct my post.

    • This makes a fascinating read, thanks

      So, “within the homeopathic tradition” means that the standard of “clinical evidence” required is:
      1. an excerpt from the homeopaths made-up book of knowledge and
      2. statements from some homeopaths that they think the treatment works

      Ouch, ouch, ouch

      Goes and weeps in a corner

    • And, of course, these aren’t individualised and dispensed by a trained homeopath so that’s why they won’t work. Or will work. Or something. Quantum entanglements, nanoparticulate froths, hatstand, wheelbarrow..

  • This is outrage. The attitude of the MHRA to homeopathy excludes them from any consideration as an appropriate body to regulate medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion (their defined role). In the description of the five products listed, the weasel words ‘within the homeopathic tradition’ are used, presumably, as a defence against accusations that the products don’t really do a darn thing. Presumably they would approve crystal balls for diagnosis of disease ‘within the fortune telling tradition’.
     
    I was astonished, looking at the MHRA website, to discover they have now expanded to include an advisory board on the registration of homeopathic products that comprises 11 members. These people have to judge whether a product is “for oral or external use (excluding injections)”, “sufficiently dilute to guarantee safety” (= contains nothing but water or sugar) and makes “no therapeutic claims“. Even with the weasel words, the five products clearly violate this last requirement.
     
    Perhaps this is an issue for a trading standards complaint? What fun to see one government body objecting to things approved by another! The MHRA needs to be closed down, urgently. It just doesn’t do its job.

    • The MHRA’s hands are mostly tied: they are simply implementing the Human Medicines Regulations 2012, the homeopathy sections of which come from EU Directive 2001/83/EC and the clauses covering the National Rules scheme come from EU Directive 92/73/EEC.

  • “This product is not recommended for children under 18, please call us for advice for use in children.”

    Since when was water and “organic sucrose” dangerous to children?

    • they should perhaps change it to:
      THIS PRODUCT CANNOT BE RECOMMENDED FOR PEOPLE UNDER OR OVER THE AGE OF 18

    • In one of the James Randi stage shows he even buys a homeopathic sleeping potion, and shows that on the packaging there’s an emergency number to call in case of overdose.

      • sure – overdose of sugar can cause diabetic coma!!!

        • There was a story a few years ago about Billy Joel’s daughter trying to commit suicide with a homeopathic overdose. I think she’d left a suicide note, and can only imagine she’d woken up to find herself surrounded with a huge pile of wingwang potion bottles.
          Leaving aside the problems that anyone trying to commit suicide may genuinely have-even if on this occasion it could have been a call for help-it’s hysterically funny. But also contains a deeper truth about the potency of homeopathy -as people believe- and the possibility it can achieve what proper treatments they are undergoing cannot.
          If there’s still anybody hasn’t seen them – check the two routines about homeopathy on youtube by Mitchell and Webb and by Dara O’ Briain. I disagree with the late Peter Cook and others who say ‘If satire had any effect, Nazi Germany wouldn’t have happened’. I’ve been in disagreement on the Quackwatch site with a fellow called Iqbal who claims that the reason so many homeopaths won’t get involved in the argument is that they are fed up with the sarcasm and ridicule. A bit like Boris Johnson’s ‘shy Tories’ I suppose. To which one might respond ‘But we have a Health Secretary who when criticised for his support of homeopathy on the NHS says ‘We’ll just have to agree to differ’. As Richard Dawkins says on the subject of Creationism v Evolution – ‘The evidence is in. There is no serious debate to be had, The Creationists are simply wrong’.

  • Thanks to a dad angry about pharmacist selling him Aflubin as protection against flu, and attempts by Minister of Health of Latvia and President of Medical Association to persuade that homeopathy is not a delusion or fraud, we has had a discussion and it turned out that many people not only do not know difference between homeopathy and phytotherapy, but they also believe that homeopathic remedies can have only one active component and that one must not by mass produced remedies, because they have several active substances. Well, it is not true in the case of Aflubin or remedies mentioned in the article. But who spreads the information what homeopathy is? Why is it not a precise one? (E.g. that homeopathic remedies are different and that industrial production make it easier to implement all the rituals, if they are ever implemented?).

    • But who spreads the information what homeopathy is? Why is it not a precise one? (E.g. that homeopathic remedies are different and that industrial production make it easier to implement all the rituals, if they are ever implemented?).

      It is the same situation as with any other faith-based claim: the proponents make it all up as they go, avoiding any and all evidence to the best of their abilities and/or misrepresenting, distorting and/or lying about the evidence if there is any; while the sceptics attempt to interpret the claims and the evidence as best they can, only to be ignored, vilified and/or accused of ignorance and/or malice and/or conspiracy in order to allow big pharmaceutical companies to make lots of money.

  • Some people spend too much time criticising stuff. Find more creative outlets for your brain power!
    Or are you employed by big pharma perhaps?

    1) these don’t have side effects, unlike most meds

    2) “scientific studies” don’t mean much these days. So easy to falsify the results, or at least “massage the data” so you get the result you want. And most of the times, you cannot get to the data to verify the results. In general, no one verifies the results. Unless I see the data and all the stats, headlines mean little to me. And I prefer to use my own head, thank you.

    2) I tried the sleep one and it helped me.
    Being able to sleep soundly without waking up is amazing.
    I would give it 10 out of 10 if I could

    3) small packet, can easily take on holiday with me

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