28 November 2006

Scottish Doctors Say "Nay" To Modern Medicine

by Kate Melville

A new study, appearing in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, found that 60 percent of Scottish doctors prescribe homeopathic or herbal remedies for their patients, with many scripts being written for babies and children under 16. The surprisingly high figure has caused concern in the UK's National Health Service, which has called for a critical review of homeopathic and herbal prescribing.

The study, from the University of Aberdeen, analyzed official prescribing data for nearly 2 million patients from 2003-4. The key findings included:

"This level of prescribing raises important questions about homeopathic and herbal provision in the UK's National Health Service," said study co-author Dr James McLay, of the University of Aberdeen. He cited the absence of any clinical evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathy as a significant problem. "Given the rise of evidence-based medicine and the trend toward prescribing guidance in the UK, should therapies with no convincing positive clinical trial evidence be prescribed and funded by the health service?"

The large number of alternative prescriptions written for children and babies underscores the need for a critical review of the trend, adds McLay. "We hope that this paper will further inform the debate, as it provides clear evidence on prescribing patterns within the NHS [National Health Service] and raises a number of important issues, particularly about prescribing homeopathic and herbal remedies to children," he concluded.

Source: British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology