MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

Dr Tony Pinkus has been featured on this blog before. The reason for this is that he claimed – falsely, of course – I have ‘faked’ research data. Recently, he re-appeared on my radar when he (or another spokesperson of his firm) was quoted in The Telegraph accusing me of ‘ignorance’. Subsequently, Mr Ullman published this letter by Pinkus to the TIMES journalist, Rosie Taylor, in the comments section of my previous blog-post:

Dear Rosie,

Its clearly a very slow summer as this is a very old story being peddled by an arch skeptic of homoeopathy who is little more than a charlatan himself.

The well respected researcher Professor Robert Hahn recently stated, at a research conference in London, that, in order to agree with Ernst’s castigation of homoeopathy you would literally have to ignore over 90% of the high quality research material already published.

Ernst has made a name for himself by criticising homoeopathy and attacking HRH The Prince of Wales for his life long support of the therapy. Meanwhile this upstart, with an unhealthy interest in Nazi medicine, has risen to prominence by taking a position as the first professor of complementary medicine in a chair supported wholly by a British philanthropist who provided the money based on his beneficial experiences of homoeopathy.

To comment on a single remedy without context or appreciation of the wider principles of the subject would be akin to understanding how your car works by examining the tread of the near side tyre. As such I refuse to lend currency to his idiocy and your paper’s promotion of it as science. He has no understanding of the principles and continues to demonstrate his ignorance with ludicrous remarks. This is scientism not science.

Under his misguidance of a bunch of ignorant sceptics, a large number or poor and aged patients have been deprived of the benefits of homoeopathy on the NHS, hitherto available since the inception of the system in 1948. Five private hospitals dedicated to homoeopathic practice, that were built by private donations from wealthy benefactors were ceded to the NHS have been lost as a result.

In a crucial time when antibiotics are failing and we need more natural solutions people like Ernst are masquerading as heroes when in fact they are villains.

Kind regards

Tony Pinkus
Director
Ainsworths

_______________________________________________________________

Naturally, I wanted to learn more about a man who can compose such charming letters. Who exactly is he, and what brings him to putting such liable nonsense on paper? Here is how Pinkus describes himself:

Tony Pinkus qualified as a pharmacist in 1980 and accepted the offer to take over Ainsworths Homeopathic Pharmacy when John Ainsworth retired in 1989. Having learnt from John Ainsworth, Tony went on to teach homoeopathic practitioners including doctors, vets, and dentists at both the Faculty of Homoeopathy and The College of Homoeopathic Education amongst others both in the UK and overseas. Tony has co-written five books on the homoeopathic treatment of animals with homoeopathic vet Mark Elliott and herdsman Philip Handsford. He also wrote self-help books for the kits and a self-help, interactive computer program for the OTC range. Tony is the grantee of two Royal Warrants of Appointment to HM The Queen and HRH The Prince of Wales and previously HM The Queen Mother. In this position he is consulted on matters concerning homoeopathic remedies by The Royal Family. 

Interesting?

Not really!

But I did find something that fascinated me: a pilot study of homeopathy for children with autism and ASD which Pinus conducted in 1998 and published in 2015. Here are some excerpts from it:

Over 3000 children received homoeopathic secretin sufficient for the period of the pilot study and each parent received a questionnaire to complete and return. Oral reports were received from 6 weeks to 18 months during which homoeopathic secretin was in continual use. Written reports were received from a number of patients and 159 completed questionnaires were returned, forming the basis of the graph below. This number was less than expected but nonetheless representative of the responses obtained by continued contact with the patient group.

CONCLUSIONS

The results demonstrate an incremental benefit from possible to moderate change observed in 12 key symptoms of ASD over the seven weeks of recording. There is a clear variation in benefit over the symptom range and direct communication faculties improve more significantly than behavior patterns. Eye contact and vocalization being the most profound and immediate changes observed. Continued use beyond the study period maintained the upward trend demonstrated in the first seven weeks. The individual variation in response between patients was also quite large with some children fairing well above average and others below average, hence the results understate the actual picture that can occur, whilst it must be appreciated that secretin will not help all cases. The negative value for a worsening of symptoms was unwise in retrospect as this is generally indicative of a positive outcome with homoeopathic treatment and in experience undervalued the outcome of the symptom when further examined.

The modest aim of this pilot study was met insofar that a large sample size, far greater than in any trial to date, reported incremental beneficial improvement to their ASD symptoms over a seven week period with many concurrent reports of a profound change in the child as a whole person. Many children were able to reduce stringent diets or stop taking Ritalin and Risperidone as a consequence of taking secretin. At least one report has been received of a child taking homoeopathic secretin for over seven years

As to why homoeopathy has been less successful than anticipated, the results indicate a clear reason. Each meal that a child consumes acts as a maintaining cause for their symptoms and as such a block to individually chosen treatment. By taking a regular dose of homoeopathic secretin the maintaining cause is offset enabling other remedies to act more significantly. In addition it became apparent that increasing size of dose increases effect (2-6 drops) and this was necessary over longer term use of the remedy. Homoeopathic secretin was also found to potentiate the action of the injected secretin, in particular increasing its longevity from six to nine weeks.

The outcome of this study has been discussed with many homoeopathic practitioners who have as a consequence changed their management of ASD cases. It has also promoted a further clinical pilot study of the use of homoeopathic secretin in autistic adolescents.

_____________________________________________________________________

Pinkus added comments to his pilot study, evidently made at the time of its publication (2015). There I found this remarkable statement: ‘If you look at Wakefields work here it fits in nicely.’

Here I don’t want to comment on the abysmal quality of Pinkus’ study (too obvious to mention, I think). What I do want to mention, however, is the fact that, in his study, I don’t find any mention of an approval from an ethics committee to carry out this study. Could it be that I have missed it? Or might Pinus be in violation of research ethics? If the latter is the case, should the Royal Warrants (see above) not be withdrawn as a matter of urgency? After all, it is Pinkus personally who ‘is the grantee of two Royal Warrants of Appointment to HM The Queen and HRH The Prince of Wales’!

9 Responses to Should the Royal Warrants of ‘Ainsworths Homeopathic Pharmacy’ be withdrawn?

  • Royal Warrants are granted after application to the various HRH’s or HM – and ceratin conditions have to be met. e.g. a Warrant can only be active for five years after the death of the grantor – and the grantee has to meet certain standards of product and service. Purdey’s have to ensure Prince Charles guns are proofed, as well as demonstarting excellency of their engraving. In considering whether Ainsworth’s are worthy of a warrant, I wanted to know what the standards are which lead to the grantors believing any of their remedies have any value whatsoever.

    I do not dispute that some folks benefit from an hour’s consultation with a homeopath, but I wanted to know what the evidence is that any remedy prescribed (and purchased from Ainsworth’s) had any physiological effect. Not finding any such evidence in my (admittedly brief) survey of the literature, I wrote and asked Prince Charles if he had any such evidence. He does not.
    So exactly what are the standards which have induced him to be a promoter of and marketeer for Ainsworth’s products?

    In response to recent press reports about hoeopathic remedies, I wrote to the Times:

    “I am concerned that homeopathic remedies are promoted by the Prince of Wales who has granted a Royal Warrant to Ainsworths pharmacy (The Times, 21st August 2019).

    Royal Warrant holders must satisfy certain standards – I have written to HRH and asked for sight of the standards set by the Prince and met by Ainsworths, and for any evidence the Prince has of the beneficial effect of such remedies. His secretary replied by return that “The Prince of Wales does not enter into correspondence on this subject.”

    So here we have a Fellow of the Royal Society withholding evidence of the benefit of remedies which might be of value to us all. Is this an ethical response from a fellow of a society whose motto in English is “Take nobody’s word for it”?”

    For me, the issue is the unaccountable promotion by royal persons of products which seem to be valueless (even if those persons find personal satisfaction from discussing them with a homeopath). In particular, the cavalier manner in which a fellow of the Royal Society ingores what evidence there is and simply seems to take Mr Pinkus’s word that the remedies he sells have some identifiable effect.

    The system of using ‘Royal Warrants’ for the promotion of products and services appreciated by royal persons is being brought into disrepute and should be revised, least gullible and vulnerable members of the public are misled.

  • I do enjoy an approach to statistics that takes an average outcome then ascribes credit to the intervention under test for the above-average outcomes but blames exogenous factors for below-average outcomes.

    It’s almost like it’s not being used as a real test of the intervention.

    If only there was a way to get around this problem. I’ve heard of something called a ‘Control Group’. I wonder whether it’s a useful idea.

  • When Pincus, in his letter, accuses you of an unhealthy interest in Nazi medicine he immediately undermined his own credibility. His smear tactic only highlights the poverty of his own position.

  • it is quite immoral for HRH to use the Royal Warrant in this manner.
    He is promoting Homeopathy and encouraging gullible and similarly “organic” minded people to follow his simple-minded lead with this diluted nonsense.

    He should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. It is bad enough that he sells over-priced so-called “organic” produce at his farm shop along with gaudy trinkets but to meddle with people’s health and to encourage the suffering of animals with this pseudoscientific magical claptrap is beyond the pale.

    It is time it was stopped

  • Good grief. Pinkus considers that to be “research”? Any GCSE level science student should be able to detail exactly why that is utter nonsense. That he sees fit to parade such rubbish demonstrates only his spectacular scientific ignorance. He should be ashamed, but he won’t be because, like Dana, he is a blinkered and intellectually bereft zealot.

  • I do agree that homeopathy fits well with Wakefield’s modus operandi: Fraud.

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