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

Yesterday, I stumbled across this remarkable notice. As it is in German, I took the libery of translating it for you:

Am 6. April 2024 war es wieder soweit: Die ÖGHM und die Schwabe Austria GmbH luden zur Verleihung des mit 4.000,- Euro dotierten Dr. Peithner Preises ein.

Dieses Mal wurde der Forschungspreis für die zwei eingereichte Arbeiten „Recommendations in the design and conduction of randomized controlled trials in human and veterinary homoeopathic medicine“ und „Recommendations for Designing, Conducting and Reporting Clinical Observational Studies in Homeopathic Veterinary Medicine“ an Katharina Gaertner, Klaus von Ammon, Philippa Fibert, Michael Frass, Martin Frei-Erb, Christien Klein-Laansma, Susanne Ulbrich-Zuerni und Petra Weiermayer vergeben.

Wir freuen uns sehr und gratulieren den Preisträger:innen zum verdienten Erfolg. Ein herzliches Dankeschön geht auch an die ÖGHM und die Schwabe Austria, die nicht nur mit diesem traditionellen Forschungspreis die Wissenschaft unterstützt.

Here is my translation:

On 6 April 2024, the time had come again: the ‘Austrian Society for Homeopathic Medicine’ (ÖGHM) and Schwabe Austria GmbH hosted the award ceremony for the Dr Peithner Prize, which is endowed with 4,000 euros.

This time, the research prize was awarded to Katharina Gaertner, Klaus von Ammon, Philippa Fibert, Michael Frass, Martin Frei-Erb, Christien Klein-Laansma, Susanne Ulbrich-Zuerni and Petra Weiermayer for the two submitted papers “Recommendations in the design and conduction of randomised controlled trials in human and veterinary homoeopathic medicine” and “Recommendations for Designing, Conducting and Reporting Clinical Observational Studies in Homeopathic Veterinary Medicine”.

We are delighted and congratulate the prizewinners on their well-deserved success. A big thank you also goes to the ÖGHM and Schwabe Austria, who support science with this traditional research prize.

______________________________

And where is the irony?

Firstly, homeopaths are not exactly the experts on how to conduct research.

Secondly, there are recommendations and guidelines for conducting clinical research (e.g. here), and there is no reason for homeopathy to not to adopt those.

Thirdly, and most importantly, to award a prize to Michael Frass for telling us how to do research is more than a little ironic. If anything, Frass could teach us a thing or two about how to falsify, fabricate and manipulate research results!

33 Responses to Homeopaths have just broken my ‘irony meter’!

  • Well, this is only ironic if you expect homeopaths to be interested in generating results that reflect reality.
    I´d say this award is logically consistent.
    The way Frass conducts his “research” is exactly the way that organizations like the ÖGHM and companies like Schwabe, who want to sell their BS homeopathic “remedies”, expect science should be done 😉

  • Michael Frass and scientific study design or evidence-based work? That contradicts itself. 😀

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_Frass#Article_in_the_Oncologist

  • Hmmm…I couldn’t help but notice that your review of this article is simply an ad hom on Michael Frass…and not a single word is used to critique the article itself. The irony here is your article itself.

    • his study has been critiqued here several times;
      i don’t see an ‘ad hom’ – please tell me what exactly is ad hom, in your view.

      • but it is understandable that you take Fass’ side; after all, you published this deeply misleading review together:

        There are conceptual and historical links between homeopathic medicine and modern allergy desensitization treatment. Conventional allergy desensitization and homeopathic treatment both utilize small doses of substances that might cause symptoms in order to prevent or treat a hypersensitive state. Homeopathy has historically been associated with allergy treatment. This article reviews evidence from controlled trials for the use of homeopathy in respiratory allergies. Several clinical trials, many of which were published in “high impact” conventional medical journals, describe significant effects of homeopathic treatment in allergic patients. Most of these clinical studies have been deemed to be high quality trials, according to the three most commonly referenced meta-analyses of homeopathic research. Basic in vitro experimental studies also provide evidence that the effects of homeopathy differ from placebo.
        https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20359268/

        • Yep…that article that I coauthored with Michael Frass included references to the highest quality studies using homeopathic medicines in the treatment of hayfever, asthma, and allergic rhinitis, which were published in the British Medical Journal and the Lancet. I can see why you consider this review to be “misleading” (because it doesn’t follow your basic…and erroneous, assumptions).

          And as for “critique” of this article, there is not a single sentence in your “review” that provides a scintilla of real critlque of the article itself. Please prove me wrong.

          Instead, you make snide remarks about Frass, even though none of his research has ever been retracted, despite your strong efforts to do so.

        • I have read that review and I can’t find what is the error you are trying to point out. Your minions only say insults and don’t refute anything. Why don’t you ask the same demand of your minions as you ask of your guests?

          • Your minions only say insults

            — ’Sunbead’ on Homeopaths have just broken my ‘irony meter’!

            Are you a closet chiropractor?

    • Mr Ullman, if you could take a moment to name the laboratory…….. (82nd time of asking).

      • You always ask the same question when the answer is several laboratories in the world have obtained consistent results that it is possible to distinguish a “placebo” control from a homeopathic one under different techniques.

    • I concur with you Dana, his critique was mostly ad hominem attacks against those who were involved in the study instead of telling us what exactly was wrong with the study methods. Edzard, you really need to do better than that.

      • I repeat: this study has been analysed extensively before on my blog. I don’t need to repeat this!

        • Frass has already responded to the Austrian agency’s slander. Could you explain why there happen to be basic errors in that agency’s report, why they did not allow a rebuttal from Frass et al first, why you assert forcefully in two media outlets that there was fraud from a report with severe anomalies? I think Frass could sue you.

          • Frass’ work is garbage. Laughable Texas Sharpshooting and data-mangling. Has it ever been replicated independently?

            No.

            Has any of his work changed medicine in any way?

            No.

            His is yet another blinded zealot beating the dead horse that is homeopathy and claiming to see signs of movement.

            Carry on with your specious handwaving and whataboutery, Sunbead. You are similarly inconsequential.

            If you have any robust, independently-replicated evidence to bring to the table which will prove us all wrong I’m sure you’d have shown it. But you can’t because there isn’t any.

            Homeopathy remains the nonsense it has been since Mad Sam pulled the idea out of his arse 200 years ago and you are just one of the few tedious fools who periodically pop up on this blog to spout their fatuous nonsense.

          • Why are you always so aggressive, Lenny? It’s very striking that none of Ernst’s minions have publications like Frass’s. Or can you publish in The Oncologist?
            https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1526820922002245

            This study is consistent with that of Frass. Now what nonsense will you say, Lenny?

          • “https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1526820922002245

            This study is consistent with that of Frass.”

            Reference 8:
            M Frass, H Friehs, C Thallinger, et al.
            Influence of adjunctive classical homeopathy on global health status and subjective wellbeing in cancer patients – a pragmatic randomized controlled trial.
            PMID: 26051564

            Discussed here:
            Homeopathy: is it tenacity, chutzpa or something else?
            Published Wednesday 10 June 2015
            https://edzardernst.com/2015/06/homeopathy-is-it-tenacity-chutzpa-or-something-else/

            As to the primary ‘study’:
            Medioni J, Scimeca D, Marquez YL, Leray E, Dalichampt M, Hoertel N, Bennani M, Trempat P, Boujedaini N.
            Benefits of Homeopathic Complementary Treatment in Patients With Breast Cancer: A Retrospective Cohort Study Based on the French Nationwide Healthcare Database.
            Clinical Breast Cancer. 2023 Jan;23(1):60-70.
            doi:10.1016/j.clbc.2022.10.001. Epub 2022 Oct 8.

            Conclusion

            The study showed an increasing use of homeopathy in patients with BC following diagnosis. This use was maintained after surgery and seemed to play a role in helping patients to better tolerate the SEs of cancer treatments.

            Good grief !

            Acknowledgements
            The authors thank the data extraction department of the National Health Insurance Fund for providing data, assisting in the development of the extraction specifications and developing the targeting programmes. This work was supported by Boiron.

            Disclosure:
            JM, DS, NB, NH, YLM, EL and MB has received grants or consultancy fees from Boiron. PT and NB are employees of Boiron.

            Marvellous.

          • So what did those bits of specious garbage change, Sunbead?

            Nothing.

            They’ve been ignored. They are of no consequence. When will it sink in with you?

            And still you can’t come up with any decent, robust, replicated evidence to support your assertions. All we get is your ongoing wibbling and whataboutery. Have a little look at yourself, kiddo.

  • Edzard wrote: “there are recommendations and guidelines for conducting clinical research (e.g. here), and there is no reason for homeopathy to not to adopt those.”

    Respectfully, Dr. Ernst, I disagree with the above statement. There IS a reason for homeopaths to reject the recommendations & guidelines: if they do adopt them, they will prove that homeopathy is what some wise person once dubbed “the ultimate fake!” In other words, they’ll bite themselves in their own asses…

  • “homeopaths are not exactly the experts on how to conduct research”

    This is said by the author who in no meta-analysis has had his trials rated as high quality, but he starts to criticize and defame others.

  • “A systematic review of systematic reviews of homeopathy
    E. Ernst” (2002)

    Six re-analyses of Linde et al. ’s original meta-analysis [3] were located [4–9]. Table 1 summarizes key data from these publications. The results of these re-analyses demonstrate that the more rigorous trials are associated with smaller effect sizes which, in turn, render the overall effect insignificant [5, 6, 8]…. In conclusion, the hypothesis that any given homeopathic remedy leads to clinical effects that are relevantly different from placebo or superior to other control interventions for any medical condition, is not supported by evidence from systematic reviews. Until more compelling results are available, homeopathy cannot be viewed as an evidence-based form of therapy.”

    “Systematic reviews of RCTs in homeopathy: Systematic reviews conclusively show that homeopathic remedies are”placebos (2010)

    “One important purpose of systematic reviews is to insist on independent replication of results. Therefore systematic reviews of one author reviewing only his or her own studies seem fairly non­ sensica“… n my view, there are far fewer contradictions in these numerous systematic reviews than it may appear. If we are critical about the limitations of some of the papers, if we abstain from citing ‘soundbites’ out of context, and if we do not omit those reviews that fail to support our previous assumptions, we arrive at fairly clear overall conclusions: there is no compelling evidence from the totality of these data that homeopathic remedies have clinical effects beyond placebo.

    Are you telling me that in your 2002 review you included your own reanalyses and in the 2010 review you criticize those who include their own studies? It doesn’t make sense, Ernst!

    Bizarrer medical ideas (2024)

    “Today, more than 500 clinical trials of homeopathy have been published. Some of these studies generated positive findings, yet it has been shown that, for a range of reasons, many of them are less than reliable [7]: “Registration
    of published trials was infrequent, many registered trials were not published and primary outcomes were often altered or changed. This likely affects the validity of the body of evidence of homeopathic literature and may overes-
    timate the true treatment effect of homeopathic remedies.” The totality of the reliable evidence from clinical trials fails to show that homeopathic reme- dies are more than placebos [8]. Numerous official statements from various
    countries confirm the absurdity of homeopathy (see Table 12.2).”

    Efficacy of homoeopathic treatment: Systematic review of meta-analyses of randomised placebo-controlled homoeopathy trials for any indication (2023) about Garlehner et al:

    “After literature searches and data collection for this SR had been completed, an additional subgroup analysis of the MA conducted by Mathie (2017) [11] was published, which we decided to include, as it concerned an item that had not been analysed for any of the MAs: trial registration (Gartlehner 2022) [34]). The 54 trials included in the MA conducted by Mathie (2017) [11] were published in the period from 1976 to 2014, and 20 of those trials were published from 2002 to 2014. Of this group, Gartlehner et al. analysed 19 trials, stratified according to clinical trial registration, which had been available at ClinicalTrials.gov since 2000. A random effects MA showed a positive significant effect of homoeopathy compared to placebo in n = 6 registered trials (SMD 0.53, 95% CI 0.20–0.87) and no significant difference from placebo in n= 13 unregistered trials (SMD 0.14, 95% CI − 0.07 to + 0.35). However, the between-group difference in effect estimates was not significant (meta-regression: SMD 0.39, 95% CI − 0.09 to + 0.87) [34]. It is not clear why trial #A93 of the MA conducted by Mathie (2017 [11], Lewith 2002, listed in Gartlehner [34], Supplement Table 3 as ‘not registered’) was not included in these analyses. The proportion of registered trials was 100% (n = 3/3) among high-quality trials and 19% (n = 3/16) among the other trials (Suppl. Table 38).

    And what happened to “official” verdicts like Russia’s after all, Ernst?

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