This review updated and extended a previous one on the economic impact of homeopathy. A systematic literature search of the terms ‘cost’ and ‘homeopathy’ from January 2012 to July 2022 was performed in electronic databases. Two independent reviewers checked records, extracted data, and assessed study quality using the Consensus on Health Economic Criteria (CHEC) list.

Six studies were added to 15 from the previous review. Synthesizing both health outcomes and costs showed homeopathic treatment being at least equally effective for less or similar costs than control in 14 of 21 studies. Three studies found improved outcomes at higher costs, two of which showed cost-effectiveness for homeopathy by incremental analysis. One found similar results and three similar outcomes at higher costs for homeopathy. CHEC values ranged between two and 16, with studies before 2009 having lower values (Mean ± SD: 6.7 ± 3.4) than newer studies (9.4 ± 4.3).

The authors concluded that, although results of the CHEC assessment show a positive chronological development, the favorable cost-effectiveness of homeopathic treatments seen in a small number of high-quality studies is undercut by too many examples of methodologically poor research.

I am always impressed by the fantastic and innovative phraseology that some authors are able to publish in order to avaid calling a spade a spade. The findings of the above analysis clearly fail to be positive. So why not say so? Why not honestly conclude something like this:

Our analysis failed to show conclusive evidence that homeopathy is cost effective.

To find an answer to this question, we need not look all that far. The authors’ affiliations give the game away:

  • 1Department of Psychology and Psychotherapy, Witten/Herdecke University, Witten, Germany.
  • 2Medical Scientific Services/Medical Affairs, Deutsche Homöopathie-Union DHU-Arzneimittel GmbH & Co. KG, Karlsruhe, Germany.
  • 3Institute of Integrative Medicine, Witten/Herdecke University, Herdecke, Germany.
  • 4Department of Pharmaceutical and Pharmacological Sciences, KU Leuven, Leuven, Belgium.

Another rather funny give-away is the title of the paper: the “…evaluation for…”comes form the authors’ original title (Overview and quality assessment of health economic evaluations for homeopathic therapy: an updated systematic review) and it implies an evaluation in favour of. The correct wording would be “evaluation of”, I think.

I rest my case.

2 Responses to Health economic evaluations for homeopathy: a systematic review

  • Since homeopathy does not work, it is not cost effective.

    Expert Review of Pharmacoeconomics & Outcomes Research Volume 24, 2024 – Issue 1
    “Overview and quality assessment of health economic evaluations for homeopathic therapy: an updated systematic review”
    Pages 117-142 | Received 13 Jul 2023, Accepted 28 Sep 2023, Published online: 16 Oct 2023

    They refer to this:

    Home The European Journal of Health Economics
    “Economic evaluations of homeopathy: a review”
    Original Paper
    Published: 10 February 2013


    Objectives: To review and assess existing economic evaluations of homeopathy.


    Although the identified evidence of the costs and potential benefits of homeopathy seemed promising, studies were highly heterogeneous and had several methodological weaknesses. It is therefore not possible to draw firm conclusions based on existing economic evaluations of homeopathy. Recommendations for future research are presented.

    5. Conclusion

    In addition to the systematic review of Viksveen et al [Citation17], our systematic review identified six further studies that contribute to the overall evidence on cost-effectiveness of homeopathy. In 14 out of 21 studies, homeopathic treatment favored control treatment in a synthesis of costs and effectiveness. For two studies showing better health outcomes but at higher costs, additional incremental analysis indicated cost-effectiveness of homeopathic treatment. Studies were, however, highly heterogeneous in term of the conditions investigated, the treatments administered, the design of the investigations, and the clinical and economic outcomes assessed.

    Although most recent studies yield promising data about the benefit of homeopathy for the public health system, the conclusion drawn by Viksveen et al ten years ago is still applicable today: based on the existing evidence, no firm conclusion about the cost-effectiveness of homeopathy can be drawn. Further high-quality cost-effectiveness studies are needed so that more robust statements may be made.

    So, they did look at evaluations. They did not evaluate homeopathy. So the plural is correct, and they targeted the studies, and found them weak.

  • ‘ama’ wrote: “So, they did look at evaluations.”

    They did look at evaluations of homeopathic therapy.

    They did not look at evaluations for homeopathic therapy.

    Again, here’s the title of the review [my bolding]:

    Overview and quality assessment of health economic evaluations for homeopathic therapy: an updated systematic review

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