24 February 2010


Homeopathy: Should efficacy be a separate question?

Taking part in the 10:23 "Homeopathy: There's nothing in it" campaign on 30th January was an interesting experience. The publicity stunt certainly generated debate and several people I've talked to since had no idea that homeopathy was not a herbal remedy. If the event did nothing more than inform people of that, then it was useful - and I am sure many homeopaths would applaud the spreading of accurate information. After all, they wouldn't want their customers to be misled, would they?
However, the vast majority of homeopathy supporters seem happy for these "medicines" to be marketed because, they say, they can work, even if only as a placebo, and they do no direct harm. Homeopathy used by practitioners who believe they are able to treat serious psychological/behavioural problems that require professional intervention or those who think they can prevent or treat malaria, AIDS or other deadly diseases are often overlooked by these proponents - "That's not MY homeopathy!" they cry.
It is interesting that these homeopathy supporters often change their stance when they are asked a simple question:
"Would you support a company marketing something as "Aspirin Tablets" which contained, statistically, zero aspirin, even though these tablets would also work as a placebo and, as sugar pills, would do no more direct harm than the homeopathic remedies you support?"
Of course, they recognise that this would be a scam and that any company marketing such a tablet would probably be investigated by a variety of official organisations bent on putting an end to the deception. Certainly, I suspect there would be an outcry if such a product were being sold by leading pharmacies or being prescribed on the NHS.
30C homeopathic pillules can be marketed legally as, for example, "30C Belladonna", when an entire 84 pillule container is unlikely to contain a single molecule of that ingredient. This gives it a legitimacy beyond anything that its promotion by high street stores can do.
There are those who point out that the labels on homeopathic remedies do not claim they contain any "active ingredients". Indeed, the actual ingredients may just be stated as being "sucrose and lactose". However, the label as a whole could still be misleading since a "Belladonna" pillule may contain no more belladonna than one from the container labelled "Arnica" - so why label them as one or the other?
For those who had a chuckle at our "overdose" and recognised the paradox - that taking more of the pills we were, in homeopathic terms, reducing our intake, please be reassured.... most of us swilled the sweeties....er....sorry... medicines down with copious amounts of water (or "homeopathic vodka" as someone joked). In this way, according to homeopathic "theory", it would seem we were increasing the potency to balance the "overdose" out.... of course, we didn't shake it first to "potentize" it... that must be where we went wrong!
Personally, I am glad I consider "similars", "infinitesimals", the "memory of water" and claims that these can have any affect on my health as completely ridiculous. If I didn't think it were nonsense, I might be very reluctant to drink any water at all considering it might "remember" all the bladders and sewerage systems it has been through!

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It always makes me smile whenever homeopathy is mentioned. How can people be so foolish to first believe that water has a 'memory', and then to believe that in some way this 'memory effect' will cure their illnesses? If homeopathy is real then shouldn't the fact that we are all made up of approximately 65% water protect us from getting ill in the first place? Everyone must already have enough water molecules inside them, with long 'memories', that we should all already be protected from almost every type of illness known to man. I personally think you were being overly kind when describing homeopathy as “completely ridiculous”.

If it is the shaking that makes all the difference was James Bond a closet homeopath? After all, he always insisted on having his drinks shaken and not stirred.
I probably was being overly kind when I said "completely ridiculous". However, this IS a family blog.

Please feel free to insert your own level of criticism, ridicule and profanity - it probably more closely matches my actual thoughts when writing the piece than "completely ridiculous" does! ;o)
Article from:
The Day (New London, CT)

Will Pfizer CEO Mr. Kindler Also Resign?
Thursday, 24 May 2007, 3:47 pm
Article: Peter Rost M.D.

Will Pfizer CEO Mr. Kindler Also Resign?

By Peter Rost M.D.

Pfizer's CFO Alan Levin's resignation was announced yesterday, after three days of disclosures of corruption in Pfizer's finance department, revealed by former Pfizer finance executive Mr. Ashok S. Idnani, on the Question Authority with Dr. Peter Rost blog.

Brandweek wrote that "Rost this week has devoted his blog to an astonishing series of posts which allegedly describe how Pfizer execs in India took kickbacks in connection with the sale of a Pfizer building for far less than it was worth; how Pfizer hires private detectives to spy on rival executives and pay bribes, and how Pfizer India kept a "gift" list for certain Indian government officials."

- Pfizer corruption
10 May 2005 ... Sean O'Driscoll reports on another case of corruption and conflict of interest involving the Pfizer pharmaceutical company ...

Corruption in the Pharmaceutical Industry: Why Is Anyone Surprised?

The New York Times has run many excellent articles over the years describing various forms of corruption in the pharmaceutical industry. (The latest describes the battle over monitoring the prescribing practices of individual physicians.) The one thing missing from these articles is any economic analysis.

Every person who has suffered through an introductory economics class has heard the story about how government intervention in the market leads to corruption. Economists always rant above how trade protection or various forms of government regulation inevitably lead to gaming of the system and rent-seeking behavior. If we expect to see such corruption when a tariff or quota raises clothes prices by 15-20 percent, why wouldn’t we expect to see such corruption when drug patents raise prices by 200 percent or more?

Calling government protection a “patent” or defining it as an “intellectual property right” does not change the economic model one iota. The sort of incentive for corruption from protection is the same, except the magnitudes are many times larger. For this reason, the predictable result of the government granted monopoly known as a drug patent is that drug firms will lie about their test results, conceal evidence of harmful effects, use illicit political influence to get drugs approved by the FDA and purchased by government agencies like Medicaid, make payoffs to doctors for prescribing their drugs, make payoffs to generic manufacturers to prevent competition, etc.

The Times has performed a valuable service in documenting many instances of these abuses over the years. However, the media needs to expose the underlying problem in the incentives created by the patent system so that we can have a serious debate over the best mechanism for financing prescription drug research.

Also see John Le Carre ‘The Constant Gardner” Highlighting how drug tests take place in undeveloped countries. OK it’s a novel but this is a way around libel law. It happens.
The Day (New London, CT)

Article: Pfizer CEO calls for end to corruption.

Byline: Anthony Cronin

Jun. 26--Pfizer Inc. chief executive Hank McKinnell is advocating a partnership of business, government and other global organizations to combat the growing effect of corruption on global health care.

McKinnell, who spoke Thursday to a group of 400 chief executives, government ministers and international leaders at the UN's Global Compact Leaders Summit, also voiced his support for the compact's new anti-corruption principle.

"We believe the availability of medicine and health care would increase significantly if business, government and multilateral organizations worked together to defeat corruption,"

Oh yeah Get out the bu--sh-t guards. Is homeopathy the right target?

Dave Ray
interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you

House, Flats for Rent in Leicester

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