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

Monthly Archives: March 2020

It seems that some people are pushing the notion that Boiron’s homeopathic product

Oscillococcinum®

might be helpful for the prevention and/or treatment of the Corona virus infection. To get an idea how implausible this assumption is, read my previous post on the subject.

The website of Boiron, the producer of the product, seems undeterred by plausibility and states the following:

Clinical studies show Boiron Oscillococcinum (Oscillo®) reduces the duration and severity of flu-like symptoms when taken at the onset of symptoms.1-2 Oscillo does not cause drowsiness and has no known or reported drug interactions.

Uses*

  • Temporarily relieves flu-like symptoms such as body aches, headache, fever, chills and fatigue
  • Non-drowsy; no drug interactions
  • Easy-to-take, quick-dissolving pellets
  • For everyone 2 years of age and older
  • Make sure your patients always have Oscillococcinum on hand—it works best when taken at the first sign of symptoms. Help your patients feel better before they feel worse.

While this text does not state that Oscillococcinum works for the coronavirus, one could easily read it as implying it, particularly if one also considers this tweet:

Oscillococcinum USA
@OscilloUSA
Getting sick when travelling can ruin the best of vacations. Take non-drowsy Oscillococcinum the moment you feel body aches, headache, fever, chills or fatigue coming on. http://bit.ly/2BGCmCz
________________________________________________________________________________
On the Internet we find many much more direct claims. Take this website, for instance:

The commonly indicated Homeopathic remedies for Coronavirus are: –
• OSCILLOCOCCINUM
• Arsenic Album
• INFLUENZINUM

**However, for best results contact a Qualified Homeopathic doctor so that correct medicines can be prescribed.

And even some politicians promote such irresponsible nonsense.

________________________________________________________________________________

All the claims about Oscillococcinum have one thing in common: they are not evidence based! Any notion that it might work against the coronavirus is pure fantasy. And the above statement by Boiron is based on two cherry-picked studies. The totality of the evidence, however, does not show that Oscillococcinum is effective. The current Cochrane review says about its effectiveness: There is insufficient good evidence to enable robust conclusions to be made about Oscillococcinum(®) in the prevention or treatment of influenza and influenza-like illness. Our findings do not rule out the possibility that Oscillococcinum(®) could have a clinically useful treatment effect but, given the low quality of the eligible studies, the evidence is not compelling. There was no evidence of clinically important harms due to Oscillococcinum(®).

The reason, I guess, why this conclusion is not more forthright stating THERE IS NO GOOD EVIDENCE THAT OSCILLOCOCCINUM HAS ANY EFFECT can be found in the list of conflicts of interest of the paper’s authors:

All three review authors are research‐active in the field of homeopathy. They were members of the International Scientific Committee for Homeopathic Investigations (ISCHI), whose membership also included two employees of Boiron (the manufacturers of Oscillococcinum®), and whose committee activities ceased in July 2013. Progress with the Cochrane Review on Oscillococcinum® was presented briefly at ISCHI meetings in 2010 and 2011. The drafting of this Cochrane Review was carried out independently of those communications and of the authors’ other ongoing research activity. ISCHI has not run or sponsored any research on Oscillococcinum®.

Robert T Mathie: Dr Mathie is Research Development Adviser, British Homeopathic Association. He was a member of the International Scientific Committee on Homeopathic Investigations, which ceased its committee activities in July 2013. Joyce Frye: Part of Dr Frye’s salary was supported by a research grant from the Standard Homeopathic Company, paid to her employer, the Center for Integrative Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, University of Maryland, USA. Support ended in June 2013 when Dr Frye resigned from the University of Maryland. Standard Homeopathic Company does not manufacture Oscillococcinum or any similar product, and had no interest in the outcome of the review. Dr Frye received honoraria from the International Scientific Committee on Homeopathic Investigations, which was dissolved in July 2013. Peter Fisher: I am Expert Adviser on Complementary and Alternative Medicine to the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), which may take an interest in the evidence in this review. I am Editor in Chief of an international, peer‐reviewed journal dedicated to homeopathy. All payments and reimbursements for lectures have been from universities or professional or learned societies. None of these lectures has been dedicated to the subject of this review. Some meetings have been supported by grants from commercial interests, including the manufacturer of the product that is the subject of the review.

So, to be clear: oscillococcinum does not help against the corona or any other virus. Those who claim otherwise are either mistaken, or have a commercial interest, or both.

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