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: Ethics of homeopathy
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Jun 5th 2009
If a treatment is indistinguishable from a placebo, is it ethical to lie to a patient and tell them that the treatment works?
Jun 5th 2009
Also is it ethical to sell a patient something called "phosphorus" (for example), which proves in analysis to contain only sugar and water and no phosphorus?
Would it be then ethical if that happened to you to describe the label of that remedy bottle as "bogus"? Or would that be slander?
Jun 6th 2009
If I bought a box labelled "Adidas trainers" I'd expect it to contain, well, Adidas trainers. I find it remarkable that you can buy a bottle labelled "phosphorus" yet the bottle may* contain no phosphorus whatsoever.
*If it is above 12C then that "may" should read "will definitely".
Jun 12th 2009
If it is established that aspirin does not prevent a primary cardiovascular event, is it ethical to lie to patients and tell them that it does?
Jun 12th 2009
As far as I am aware aspirin has only been suggested by some doctors for some patients to prevent heart disease. The blanket use has only been suggested by low quality newspapers. If you can point me to NHS guidelines which say anything different I would be interested
More to the point, any doctor who has instructed somebody to take any pill has done it with the belief that it is effective which is not a lie. Furthermore, advice is updated when new information comes to hand.
Of course, this is only relevant for cardiovascular disease as aspirin is still considers a reasonable analgesic I believe.
Jun 15th 2009
jdc, so if I buy a bottle of "light of Venus" 10C, this will definitely contain the light of Venus? Or similarly Antimatter 6C is guaranteed to contain antimatter?
PS no answer necessary, question is entirely rhetorical.
Jun 16th 2009
I always wondered where Jeremy Sherr got his plutonium from.
Jun 17th 2009
What a lot of "questions" and no-one to answer them!
Since the manner in which homeopathic medicines are prepared is in the public domain it is not misleading to describe Phosphorous 30c as such since there is no claim that this contains material phosphorous, the designation clearly states that this is phosphorous diluted 1:100 and succussed 30 times over.
Homeopathic prescribers do not beleive they are prescribing placebo, and in this they are supported by a number of factors:
1) the suprisingly large (though poorly co-ordinated and very underpublicised) body of in-vitro work using plant, tissue and molecular models that show biological activity of homeopathically prepared substances
2) their clinical observations which in follow up frequently show a clinical course quite distinct from the placebo response which is ubiquitous in medical practice
3) the randomised controlled trials in individual conditions which show positive outcomes
4) the meta-analsyses other than Shand (which did not meet basic criteria for a metanalysis) which either are equivocal or suggest an effect above placebo
I'm sure this will come as unwelcome news to the contributors above, but I would invite all of them to read at least some of the papers mentioned in the faculty of homeopathy research pages before responding (http://www.facultyofhomeopathy.org/research/)
I would also invite them to put themselves in the shoes of patients who have tried everything conventional treatment has to offer, to no avail. These people make up the majority of the patients of medical homeopaths, and fortunately we know that we can help 60 - 70% of them to acheive outcomes they themselves rate as moderate to marked improvements.
Dec 26th 2012
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