The report was never published and was instead replaced by a new review that concluded that homeopathy was ineffective, and any benefits were purely down to the placebo effect. "There are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective," Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) concluded in its second review, which was released in 2015.
But a first review had been commissioned by the same group in 2012, and this had been favourable to homeopathy. The evaluation process had been scientific and sound, as Prof Fred Mendelsohn, a member of NHMRC's expert committee that oversaw the review process, had declared. "I am impressed by the rigour, thoroughness and systematic approach given to this (the first review) evaluation. Overall, a lot of excellent work has gone into this review and the results are presented in a systematic, unbiased and convincing manner," he said.
The first review had been undertaken by researchers at an Australian university, but a different research group, OptumInsight, was commissioned to carry out the second review. The scientific bar was also raised far higher, and imposed standards that even drug trials don't have to meet. The NHMRC decided that only studies that involved at least 150 people could be considered for inclusion, even though the group regularly carries out trials with fewer participants. As a result, 171 studies that had shown that homeopathy was effective were immediately discarded, and the second review ended up by relying on just five studies that met these new and exacting standards. Each of the five remaining studies concluded that homeopathy was ineffective.
A homeopathic group in Australia is calling for an independent review and wants the NHMRC to answer charges of scientific misconduct, procedural breaches, bias and conflict of interest. It's also pressing to have the first review published.
To find out more, or add your name to the petition, go to: https://releasethefirstreport.com