MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.
Already in 2017, the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) had issued a statement saying that “The principles of homeopathy contradict known chemical, physical and biological laws and persuasive scientific trials proving its effectiveness are not available.”Now Russia’s ‘Commission against Pseudoscience’ called homeopathy a “pseudoscience” whose effectiveness hasn’t been proven, which is harmful to patients because they spend money and time on ineffective treatments.Since 1995, qualified doctors who are also trained in homeopathy have been licensed to practice homeopathic medicine in Russian hospitals and clinics, and their practice has been regulated. However, the Commission has now recommended that Russia’s Ministry of Health forbid doctors from prescribing homeopathic medicine and ban the homeopathic medicines themselves from state medical institutions. “Homeopathy is not harmless: patients spend a lot of money on drugs that don’t work and neglect means of treatment with proven effectiveness. This can lead to adverse outcomes, including death of the patient,” the Commission wrote.

In response to the recommendation, the health ministry announced the formation of a working group of medical experts to suggest proposals for further regulation of homeopathy. A spokesman said that medicines whose efficiency is not clinically proven should not be procured using public funds, nor prescribed to treat the sick.

Russia has proved a profitable market for foreign suppliers of homeopathic medicine such as French company Boiron, which opened its Russian subsidiary in 2005. “Today, the Russian market is our company’s fourth largest in terms of turnover, after France, the US and Italy. Russia has always been interesting for Boiron because of the large population, and a relatively high incidence of illness and lower level of medicine consumption in comparison with Europe,” general director of Boiron in Russia Irina Nikulina said.

According to figures from Russian pharmaceutical market analysts DSM Group, Boiron sold 35 percent of all the homeopathic medicine sold in Russia last year, or 2.88 billion rubles (USD 49.5 million) worth of medicine. Boiron produces Russia’s most popular homeopathic medicine, called Oscillococcinum, which is marketed to relieve flu symptoms and accounted for 18.98 percent of all homeopathic medicines sold in 2016.

__________________________

The many international initiatives aimed at minimising the harm done by homeopathy are slowly beginning to yield results. It took many years for politicians to realise that the supposedly harmless homeopathy is, in fact, not harmless at all. Homeopathy causes harm by:

  1. wasting people’s money,
  2. distracting patients from effective treatments,
  3. the ill-conceived advice homeopaths give to patients,
  4. making a mockery of evidence-based medicine,
  5. violating the principles of medical ethics,
  6. undermining rational thinking in society.

One therefore has to applaud Russia’s ‘Commission against Pseudoscience’, hope that the working group does produce robust advice, and support similar initiatives in other countries.

 

 

11 Responses to Russia’s ‘Commission against Pseudoscience’ has called for the Health Ministry to ban homeopathy

  • My short holiday in Russia two years ago revealed how deeply embedded irrational thinking is among the population. It is widely believed that ringing bells can cure cancer. The queues to venerate icons wound round the cathedrals. Changing hearts and minds will be an uphill battle.

  • So great to see support for homeopathy from governments around the world dropping like dominos recently.
    Can´t wait to see changes in German politics as well!
    It is long overdue that cost coverage of homeopathic treatments by health insurances is stopped and promotion of sugar pills and magical shaken water by doctors and pharmacists is prohibited.

  • Those who run courses on fairy wrangling, unicorn hunting and broom-stick riding will be quaking in their boots.

    What seriously concerns me is that insurance in Russia, and elsewhere, pays for homeopathic consultations and remedies. If so, it should be clear that comparable policies are available for rational clients at a cheaper rate which exclude scams, nonsense and fake cures.

    I’m afraid that if folks want to be daft, they are entitled to be – particularly in a free democratic society like…hang on a sec!

  • Edzard, the memorandum published by the commission was rejected by the Russian Academy of Sciences.

    • any evidence?

        • Lolly, darling. That piece you linked to doesn’t say what you’d like to think it says. It opens thusly – translation via Google Chrome:

          “The high-profile case ‘Homeopaths against the pseudoscience commission of the RAS’ received an interesting continuation. The other day, the Moscow City Arbitration Court published the reasoning part of the decision, which explained the reasons for the refusal to satisfy the claims of homeopaths to the commission against pseudoscience.”

          The homeopaths had a typical whinge and tried to sue for 30 million roubles. It unsurprisingly got kicked out of court.

          So let’s find something more up-to-date, shall we?

          https://mb.com.ph/2020/07/07/russia-declares-homeopathy-junk-science-urges-ban-on-public-use/

          Doesn’t look to me like they rejected the memorandum.

          • Leny,

            The Manila Bulletin note is a copy of a note published in the Sputnik newspaper years ago. The Commission against Pseudoscience and Falsification of Research is not a body officially recognized by the Russian Academy of Sciences.

        • Also from the page/document to which Lollypop provided the link (and using Google Translate):

          “In the 18th century, when traditional medicine (allopathy) was still quite weak, the insolvency of homeopathy was not so obvious, and these two approaches to medicine competed on an equal footing. After the successes that traditional medicine has achieved in the 20th century, we do not have to talk seriously about homeopathy.
          However, the debate about homeopathy continues. Just as the adherents of all sorts of fortune tellers, magicians, sorcerers, psychics and other anti-scientific absurdities remain.
          Many experiments conducted at different times in different countries have not been able to prove the effectiveness of homeopathic treatments. Harm homeopathic remedies alone do not bring, but taking them, you can lose the time needed for real treatment that can end badly.”

          • David,

            “Alexandrov E.B. (chairman of the commission to combat pseudoscience) is not a full-time employee of the Russian Academy of Sciences and does not have an employment relationship with the RAS, the persons who signed the expert opinion are employees of other organizations and do not have an employment relationship with the RAS either”. It turns out that the RAS has nothing to do with either the commission’s research or the “experts” who signed it and the question of legitimacy of the memorandum itself is acute. It turns out that it is possible to initiate various “memoranda” under the cap of the main state institute in the sphere of science – RAS, in particular, in the interests of some persons and against others.”

            Such a commission is an unofficial body established in the nineties by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, a lobby in which Edzard Ernst militates.

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