GPs should not prescribe homeopathic remedies for their patients and pharmacists should not sell or recommend the use of homeopathic products, according to the RACGP.
Releasing its position statement on homeopathy, RACGP President Dr Frank R Jones says GPs practice in evidence-based medicine and there was robust evidence homeopathy had no effect beyond a placebo as a treatment for various clinical conditions.
“Given this lack of evidence, it does not make sense for homeopathy products to be prescribed by GPs or sold, recommended or supported by pharmacists,” Dr Jones says.
The RACGP position statement maintains that homeopathic alternatives should not be used in place of conventional immunisation.
“It is irresponsible to claim that homeopathic vaccines are a proven alternative to conventional vaccination,” says Dr Jones.
“The reality is that these alternatives do not prevent diseases or increase protective antibodies and there is no plausible biological mechanism by which these alternatives could prevent infection.
“Individuals and the community are exposed to preventable diseases when homeopathic vaccines are used as an alternative to conventional immunisation.”
Another risk of homeopathy is that people delay or avoid seeing a GP – exacerbating their condition through delayed care – and reject conventional medical approaches.
“Spurious claims made by homeopathic practitioners and retailers can mislead people about the effectiveness of conventional medicine and this can result in serious health consequences,” Dr Jones says.
The position statement also outlines that many private health insurers subsidise homeopathy through ‘extras’ cover when alternative evidence-based treatment methods are available.
“Whilst we appreciate and recognise the right of patients who may choose or seek homeopathy, unfortunately all taxpayers are funding homeopathy via the Federal Government’s private health insurance rebate,” Dr Jones says.
“The RACGP is concerned that health insurance premiums continue to rise as significant subsides are paid for homeopathy and other natural therapies. In 2013-14 health insurers paid out $164 million in benefits for natural therapies, an increase of almost 60% from 2010-11.”
Earlier this year the National Health and Medical Research Council analysed the scientific evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy in treating a range of clinical conditions. It concluded that homeopathy produces no health benefits over and above that of a placebo, or equivalent to that of another treatment.