Embargoed until April 18th, 12 noon.

Current evidence showing that homeopathic medicines are ineffective treatments is not
biased against homeopathy, as some homeopaths have argued, according to a review
published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

Prof Edzard Ernst, Director of Complementary Medicine at the University of Exeter, UK,
writes that about 150 controlled clinical trials have been published on homeopathy – a
therapeutic method that often uses highly diluted preparations of substances that, when
administered to healthy people, create the same effects as the disorder in the unwell patient.

Prof Ernst said in situations where the results of these trials were neither all negative nor all
positive, some commentators resorted to “cherry picking” those findings that fit their own

“The problem of selective citation is most effectively overcome by evaluating all reliable
evidence, an aim best met by systematic reviews,”
Prof Ernst said.

He searched the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews – generally considered to be the
most reliable source of evidence – in January this year for reviews that had the term
“homeopathy” in their title, abstract or keywords. Of the six articles that met the inclusion
criteria, none provided compelling evidence for the effectiveness of homeopathic remedies.

“Homeopaths have argued that systematic reviews that fail to generate positive conclusions
about homeopathy are biased,”
Prof Ernst said.

“However, as most of the reviews I appraised were authored by homeopaths, it seems
unlikely that they were biased against homeopathy. In fact, one might argue that they were
biased in favour of homeopathy.


“For instance, one reviewer [not a Cochrane author] deliberately set out to select only the
positive evidence and omit all negative evidence.”

Prof Ernst said some homeopaths argued that the controlled clinical trial was not suited for
the study of homeopathy and that observational data, which appeared to suggest that
homeopathy was effective, demonstrated the true value of the method.

“A more rational explanation would be that the positive outcomes of observational studies are
caused by the non-specific aspects of homeopathic treatments, while the controlled trials
demonstrate that homeopathic remedies are placebos,” Prof Ernst said.

The Medical Journal of Australia is a publication of the Australian Medical Association.

Get the full pdf here.

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  • oh please!

    Um just to clear something up from earlier posts here.
    PCV1 isn’t pig dna
    It can probably be thought of along the lines of SV40, another pesky little virus that also does no harm.
    I wonder what other cute little viruses might be waiting to surprise us.

  • @maggie,

    Careful you might get a plutonic hug. Which is why Andy is missing i assume? Suffering radiation sickness

  • @oh please, I have been extremely busy. I have blogging on my list of things to do today. Apologies for being tardy.

    I plan to blog about the vax reactions, at which time I will bring comments concerning this over to the relevant page to make for ease of discussion.

  • oh please!

    here’s a link to CSL page:


    In part it says:
    Will CSL include the pandemic H1N1 2009 influenza strain into the seasonal flu vaccine in 2010?
    Yes. Following the TGA acceptance of the WHO recommendation for the Southern Hemisphere influenza vaccine for 2010, the following strains will be included in the CSL seasonal 2010 flu vaccine:
    — an A/California/7/2009 (H1N1)-like virus;
    — an A/Perth/16/2009 (H3N2)-like virus;
    — a B/Brisbane/60/2008-like virus.


    I think but I’m not sure that this is the vaccine in question.
    I also can’t seem to find anything on the clinical trials for this combined vaccine.
    Can anyone shed any light?

  • Graham Jones

    The manufacturers who made these said that they were safe and there was nothing to worry about. Parents were told side effects were unlikely. And look what has happened.

    These are the same companies who make all our other vaccine. The same vaccines that they promise are safe and side effects are unlikely. Its so so sad. I bet the huge number of parents who didnt get it are sleeping very soundly tonight.

    I wouldnt worry about pig DNA in my ham but I would worry about all the other stuff they put in the swine flu vaccine.

    When I think about the very strong negative reactions babies have had, it makes me think that it is still doing something inside adults, we just have a bigger stronger body to deal with it.

  • oh please!

    wow a new conversation!

    Andy I’d suggest you should be worried about the ham only if someone tries to inject it into your arm along with some aluminium, mercury and a few other little surprises…I’ve missed you man, where have you been!?

    Maggie…you relly do seem like a lovely person, I just wish you could maybe stand back a little and see things from a different perspective, sigh
    Andy c’mon..gimme a big plutonic man hug!

  • It is clear that there is a problem – this is why authorities have ceased vaccinating kids with the seasonal flu shot until they can find out exactly what is wrong. I hope all these adverse reactions have been reported to doctors so that authorities can get the bottom of it. I hate it that kids and their terrified parents have to go through this. It is extremely distressing.

  • Graham

    I wonder if the reactions of the WA government reflects the reactions of the children who are in hospital due to the Swine Flu vaccination? Hmmmm…or possible the reactions of the parent’s whose children who had ‘unrelated’ (according to some Dr’s) convulsions, vomiting and high fever.
    Just some of the reactions from a Mother’s board discussing this issue between people who ‘statistics’ ignore.

    “we had it 2 weeks ago and have at the drs with my 3 year old every couple of days since with high temps, bronchitis and now they say croup!! i was a bit shocked they gave him the same size dose as my husband and I. but he has been so sick”

    “DS1 had his first last week, and was meant to have a follow up jab 4 weeks later. He was fine until 8hrs later. He woke up spewing, his temp went to 39.6, he was shaking (not fitting), he’d had panadol before bed and was incoherrent and babbling. I rang PMH to see if I should bring him in and they said, no, just bath him, more panadol and ensure he drinks. He couldn’t keep anything down and he slept with me and my mum as we were so worried. PMH said it had been a ‘normal’ reaction. I’m pretty p*ssed off TBH that now they have suspended it and also PMH said it was ‘normal'”

    “My son is one of the children who had febrile convulsions, it is one of the scariest things that can happen to your child. He had had fevers before, but they never led to convulsions.Following his second seizure which lasted about 4 minutes, we were taken by ambulance to Fremantle Hospital, my son was barely conscious at all in that time, allowing them to put an oxygen mask on him and do a heel prick with no reaction. Once at the hospital we were pretty much ignored, waited 4 hours and saw a junior doctor who said we could go with a letter to our GP saying he’d had a convulsion. We had instructions to give panadol the moment his temperature goes to 38.0 at any time in the next 2 years.”

    “I wanted to report it but was told the convulsion was a result of the fever so couldn’t be linked to the vaccine, glad to see they are investigating.”

    “A friend of mine who works at my GPs surgery told me about this yesterday. A number of children vaccinated there during the holidays were admitted to PMH with high temps and convulsions. Both her children had high temps and vomiting after being vaccinated.”

    “Interesting that other doctors were saying they couldn’t say it was linked to the vaccine, whereas the PMH doc said to us that it was definitely linked as she’d had so many kids through there after it completely febrile.”

    “I used to be slightly judgemental towards others who didn’t vaccinate their kids. I’m very sorry for that and I can completely understand why people don’t.

    I thought my DS was going to die. He was choking and gagging and I wasn’t sure if his throat was swelling up or what. He was shaking so much that he couldn’t hold anything or stand. He screamed and as he was going into the seizure I noticed he was a bit quiet and scooped him out of the bath immediately.

    I was in such a panic and didn’t think to ring the ambulance. I put him in his car seat and sped to the hospital. 5 mins away from the hospital he passed out. At this point he’d been seizing for 30 mins. I was driving along in a panic while holding onto his foot and shaking his leg to wake him up.Never again. I feel so guilty. He has a global developmental delay anyway and the seizures have put him back developmentally. The past 2 weeks have been a shocker.”

    “DS’s fever came on so fast, his first seizure was very short and he was strapped into his car seat, as the pharmacy was closer than home I took him there for panadol, it didn’t prevent the second, longer seizure. I shudder to think what might have happened had he had his vaccinations later in the day and developed the fever while he was asleep.”

    So worrying. These are just a few of the many stories. Are these vaccines safe? No way

  • Amy

    “Do you actually read posts”?

    Yep, and that’s what got me thinking. Here is another homeopathy post yapping about on about the same stuff. When there are other things happening in the scientific community that could be discussed. Oh, but that’s right! I forgot this was a pro-pharma site!

  • Hey Dr Rachie,
    We put up the same press release on the new Vic Skeptics blog site:
    With a forward by Dr Ken Harvey, what happened? Fran Sheffield herself couldn’t resist leaving a comment. Thought you might be interested.

  • Michael Kingsford Gray

    skepdic-head, and all those who are oddly confused by reality hitting your wishful-thinking for ‘a six’.
    Every health intervention, (that means ‘magic-spell’ to you homeopaths sitting on the mats in the front row), is judged by a sane person based on its benefit to risk ratio.

    Got that?
    Paying attention here? There’ll be a test later for the slower students.
    And yes, skepdick, I *am* looking at you.

    Let’s call this the metric “Rachie” scale.
    (The “Gray” is already taken)

    If you do not remember anything else this semester, it MUST be that.

    Homeopathy scores as lowly on the scale as -100,000,00 Rachies, especially in the case of Anti-Malarials.
    Chiropractic scores -42 MilliRachies for adults, just slightly below zero. It scores -3.17 KiloRachies for infants, though.
    Surgery scores +78.5 MegaRachies.
    Pharmaceuticals score between -1Rachies & 6.78GigaRachies, depending on case & course.

    Don’t forget that the Rachie is a measure of Benefit versus Risk.
    If you are an Homeopath, I’ll say it again! Oh why bother, you won’t listen anyway.

    Scepdic, stop picking your nose. It contains homeopathic dilutions of your idiocy.
    Oh, that explains everything…

  • Hmmm, how much pig DNA was there in my Christmas ham – and should I be worried?

  • Mick

    @scep dick
    If you pick up a handful of dirt, or use a computer keyboard in an internet cafe, you get exposed to more immunogenic antigens than the entire vaccine schedule contains. The reason nobody discusses the risks of trivial amounts of stray stuff in vaccines is because those who understand the science are not particularly concerned.

  • @scep, *sigh* This is a site discussing evidence for and against claims made about therapies and modalities. The reason there are many posts about alternative medicine is precisely because the evidence for their efficacy, in some cases, is scant. If you are looking for the reasons why there is not so much discussion about “pharma” then please head here for evidence. Which BTW, also includes evidence that some alt. med. modalities work! It’s called the peer review process and the aim of it is to weed out non-scientific claims.

  • scep dick

    “Do you actually read posts”?

    Yep, and that’s what got me thinking. Here is another homeopathy post yapping about on about the same stuff. When there are other things happening in the scientific community that could be discussed. Oh, but that’s right! I forgot this was a pro-pharma site!

  • scep, who cares if the rotavirus vaccine has pig DNA in it. And what has this to do with the rotavirus vaccine? Do you actually read posts or do you just find somewhere to spam with off-topic nonsense to drive your screw-headed agenda? Can you show cause as to why you shouldn’t be banned like any other spammer?

  • scep dick

    ‘Precautionary’, huh? What are they taking precautions against Mr well-mannered sceptic? It blows me away that you feel completly safe about injecting shit into your body.

  • Henk van der Gaast

    “Why dont you ’sceptics’ put the recent coverage of the rotavirus vacine containing pig dna? Rather then banging on about the same old crap over and over again how about you take on some different articles and discuss them – actually be open minded and discuss them scientifically?”


    Well blow me down, in these minute concentrations, but sub homeopathic, homeopaths would claim that the pig DNA is ineffective.

    All jokes aside, what would one expect from something that has to be grown on a cell line or a biological support media. You would be blown away by the demands of science and the analysis of products. Finding “pig DNA” in the vaccine would not have been done by any homeopath, naturopath or chiropractor. It would have been done in an accredited laboratory seeking to find possible contaminants in a product.

    Note that this probably wouldn’t be the crack team at “A.I.G.” either.

    May I ask the antivaxx community what they are going to complain about when techniques based on current technology produces pure vaccines without support media? It’s not that far away.

    You can bang away all you like about scientific evaluation and discussion. When the scientific evaluation of CAMS has shown it to be a miserable multi billion dollar failure (NCCAMs) you can’t then argue that you want new scientific evidence. The discussion should then start with, O.K. we will start real programs evaluating real modalities and evaluate them carefully as we go along in fixed trials. I don’t know what your beef is, phytochemists do this sort of thing all the time. You probably have never heard of these.

    For every branch of woo, there is science to discount it. If you don’t have any science in your arguments, how can we then discuss your proposals on a scientific basis?

    Lets be clear about this, there isn’t any benefit to the “nature” fraud to take up scientific evaluation when they can dump woo in the market place without any risk benefit analysis.

    You wonder what our sports and movie stars are thinking at times.. How much, how much? I can hit that out of the roof!!

    Qui bono?

  • @Scep Dick

    DNA is not magic pixie dust. It will not turn your coach into a pumpkin. The withdrawal is precautionary, nothing more. STFU.

  • scep dick

    Why dont you ‘sceptics’ put the recent coverage of the rotavirus vacine containing pig dna? Rather then banging on about the same old crap over and over again how about you take on some different articles and discuss them – actually be open minded and discuss them scientifically? You publish articles about swine flu and how stupid people are for thinking they aren’t safe but what do you think might be the implication of unknown viruses being present in vaccines?

    “Follow-up tests by GlaxoSmithKline and FDA scientists confirmed the academic team’s findings and confirmed that viral components have been present since the early stages of the vaccine’s development, including during clinical studies.”

  • I think it goes like this doesn’t it…
    You can’t test homeopathy using mainstream science that’s why it failed that test.” closely followed by “Ooh, look, this scientific test proves homeopathy works! Shout it from the rooftops.”