The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has released its position statement on homeopathy, formally recommending that GPs stop prescribing homeopathic remedies, and advising pharmacists to not sell, or recommend, homeopathic products for use.

In its position statement, the RACGP made four recommendations regarding the use of homeopathic remedies stating, “In light of strong evidence to confirm that homeopathy has no effect beyond that as a treatment for various clinical conditions, the position of the RACGP is:

  1. Medical practitioners should not practice homeopathy, refer patients to homeopathic practitioners, or recommend homeopathic products to their patients.
  2. Pharmacists should not sell, recommend, or support the use of homeopathic products.
  3. Homeopathic alternatives should not be used in place of conventional immunisation.
  4. Private health insurers should not supply rebates for, or otherwise support, homeopathic services or products.”

According to RACGP President, Dr Frank Jones, GPs practice evidence-based medicine, and given the lack of evidence supporting homeopathic remedies offering more benefit than placebo, it is nonsensical for GPs to prescribe these treatments, or for pharmacists to sell them.

“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.”

In an unusual show of support, Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) President, Grant Kardachi, said “We strongly recommend that pharmacists do not sell these products. But PSA is not a regulatory body and has no jurisdiction to determine which products are sold through pharmacies.

“Pharmacists need to critically assess the needs of patients while also respecting their right of informed choice when selecting medicines,” said Mr Kardachi.

In objection to these claims, the Australian Homeopathic Association (AHA) cited the RACGP’s recommendation was based on a “flawed” and “biased” finding made by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), with AHA President,  Martin Costigan, claiming the RACGP had simply repeated verbatim, a finding by the NHMRC, which his association maintains is biased and excludes all available evidence.

“It’s completely false to say, on the best available evidence, there’s no reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective, when you’ve only taken into account a very small amount of the evidence available and specifically excluded evidence that would actually support that there is efficacy for homeopathy.”

This is not the first time a national healthcare body has advised against the use of homeopathic therapies. In the UK, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has stated homeopathic products should not be recommended for use, with the Pharmaceutical Journal reporting the RPS citing “homeopathy should not be provided on the NHS, and that if patients want to purchase homeopathic products from a pharmacy, the pharmacist should inform patients that there is no evidence of their effectiveness.”

The NHMRC is continuing to stand by its review, which found no benefit of homeopathic remedies in comparison to placebo, advising it was based on a “thorough, scientific examination of 1,800 studies on the health of homeopathy.”