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    Mass drug overdose - none dead

    Orchestrated by the Merseyside Skeptics Society

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/...none-dead.html
    Mass drug overdose – none dead

    17:43 01 February 2010 by Andy Coghlan
    No ill effects were reported by hundreds of volunteers who took part in a mass-overdose stunt around the world to demonstrate that homeopathic remedies are nothing more than sugar pills.

    "There were no casualties at all, as far as I know," says Martin Robbins, spokesman for the "10:23" campaign, created to highlight the alleged ineffectiveness of homeopathic remedies.

    "No one was cured of anything either," says Robbins. Like an estimated 300 volunteers in several cities in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US, he swallowed a bottleful of around 80 homeopathic "pillules" at exactly 10.23 am on Saturday. Each pillule is a tiny sugar pill dabbed with a drop of a homeopathic remedy, produced through "infinite" dilution – the process whereby a solution is diluted to the point where no molecules of an active component are likely to remain.

    They want to believe

    Robbins says that the aim of the stunt was to draw attention to homeopathic medicine's lack of scientific foundation and to embarrass the British high-street pharmacist Boots into withdrawing its treatments from sale.

    Responding to the stunt, Boots said: "We know that many people believe in the benefits of complementary medicines and we aim to offer the products we know our customers want."

    Robbins said that the campaign, conceived and orchestrated by the Merseyside Skeptics Society, would be a success if it prompted the public to ask more questions about what homeopathy actually is.

    #2
    Interesting.

    Comment


      #3
      All this stunt really shows is the continued narrow minded arrogance that traditional Western medicine (or whatever you want to call it) has a right to a monopoly on medical treatment.

      The article doesn't even bother to say what the protestors "overdosed" on or if it was even claimed that the substances would be harmful if injested in large quantities.

      I am not saying that homeopathic or other non-traditional methods are necessarily legitimate. But neither do I see the value in summarily dismissing them as completely bogus. I think there are many things out there of potential value that Western medicine chooses to stay blind to because it risks upsetting the accepted paradigm.

      Comment


        #4
        Originally posted by orangejello View Post
        All this stunt really shows is the continued narrow minded arrogance that traditional Western medicine (or whatever you want to call it) has a right to a monopoly on medical treatment.

        The article doesn't even bother to say what the protestors "overdosed" on or if it was even claimed that the substances would be harmful if injested in large quantities.

        I am not saying that homeopathic or other non-traditional methods are necessarily legitimate. But neither do I see the value in summarily dismissing them as completely bogus. I think there are many things out there of potential value that Western medicine chooses to stay blind to because it risks upsetting the accepted paradigm.
        There is an awful lot of crap out there though. Some idiot gets stung by a bee and his cancer goes into remission. Because people confuse correlation with causation all the time he goes around saying bees cure cancer. The next thing you know people are purposely getting stung by bees thinking it will cure their cancer. Since statistically some people who are doing this will go into remission as well, they reinforce the idiocy. The tragic part is people forgo effective treatment options because they are vulnerable in a time of crisis. This is why good medicine or any science is rigorously tested with things like double blind studies. It is not narrow minded it is intelligent, thoughtful scientific method.

        http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16751949/

        Given that no reputable scientific study has shown the efficacy of homeopathy, I put it in the same category as cramming bees up your nose.

        Comment


          #5
          Originally posted by orangejello View Post
          All this stunt really shows is the continued narrow minded arrogance that traditional Western medicine (or whatever you want to call it) has a right to a monopoly on medical treatment.

          The article doesn't even bother to say what the protestors "overdosed" on or if it was even claimed that the substances would be harmful if injested in large quantities.

          I am not saying that homeopathic or other non-traditional methods are necessarily legitimate. But neither do I see the value in summarily dismissing them as completely bogus. I think there are many things out there of potential value that Western medicine chooses to stay blind to because it risks upsetting the accepted paradigm.
          orangejello,

          I agree that traditional western medicine is narrow-minded and arrogant at times. This protest, however, is interesting in that it is not an attack by western medical doctors against homeopathic medicine is. It is a protest by the Merseyside Skeptics Society who, according to their website http://www.merseysideskeptics.org.uk/who-are-we/, seek to "discern truth from fiction". This is a society that says "we adhere to principles of scientific skepticism, a position which seeks to establish the veracity of scientific and historical claims through a logical and impartial evaluation of the available evidence." I find their mission admirable and that is why I posted this.

          The story behind the protest is actually quite interesting:
          Last week, on the 26th January 2010, the Merseyside Skeptics Society sent a detailed and lengthy complaint to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority detailing a litany of what we believe to be irregularities regarding the language used to promote and describe the homeopathic offerings available from Boots through its online store and more generally in the information surrounding homeopathy that Boots supplies to its consumers and others. The letter to the MHRA sets out the many points of concern that we feel are serious enough to warrant complaint, of which some are:

          5 specific, detailed complaints regarding the description and marketing language used for particular products available on the Boots website which we feel are in contravention of the UK National Rules Scheme and The Medicines (Advertising) Regulations 1994.

          10 stated objections to the description of homeopathy and homeopathic remedies in the treatment of specific conditions, potentially contravening The Medicines (Advertising) Regulations 1994.

          10 further complaints with regard to the claims made for homeopathic remedies generally.

          A complaint in the manner in which supposedly medicinal products are being marketed and sold, potentially contravening The Medicines (Advertising) Regulations 1994.

          While the complaint procedure is still underway, we’d prefer not to go into specific details – we do, however, acknowledge that since making the complaint Boots have withdrawn sections of the website relating to specific items of the complaint (action taking by Boots at 10am on Feb 1st, 2010).
          Personally, I am taken aback by many of the claims that I find on internet. When an established pharmacy start making hyperbolic claims, to get the gullible and ignorant to buy their products, I think that it is quite reasonable for the Merseyside Skeptics Society to protest, don't you?

          Wise.

          Comment


            #6
            Originally posted by t8burst View Post
            Since statistically some people who are doing this will go into remission as well, they reinforce the idiocy.
            In addition, the people who do not go into remission are not around to say "It doesn't work!"

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by t8burst View Post

              Given that no reputable scientific study has shown the efficacy of homeopathy, I put it in the same category as cramming bees up your nose.
              That's your perogative. However I prefer to stay more open minded about things like homeopathy or naturapathy as I think it's arrogant and narrow minded to assume they have no value whatsoever. I suspect that the lack of "reputable scientific study" is in part due to the fact that the current scientific and medical establishment is hostile to anything that threatens their monopoly. Something that leaves little in terms of incentive, funding, and resources for researchers wishing to carry out effective studies on alternative types of treatment. It's easier to discredit by denying and denouncing than to fund and allow proper studies. I am not saying things like homeopathy should be considered a replacement for traditional medicine. But I think looking at where there might be opportunities to complement systems of treatment with each other is worthwhile.

              As an aside the medical school where my brother teaches has introduced a course for students to explore alternative treatments. It's only an elective and relatively short (20 hours or so). But I see it as a positive thing.
              Last edited by orangejello; 3 Feb 2010, 3:21 PM.

              Comment


                #8
                Originally posted by orangejello View Post
                That's your perogative. However I prefer to stay more open minded about things like homeopathy or naturapathy as I think it's arrogant and narrow minded to assume they have no value whatsoever. I suspect that the lack of "reputable scientific study" is in part due to the fact that the current scientific and medical establishment is hostile to anything that threatens their monopoly. Something that leaves little in terms of incentive, funding, and resources for researchers wishing to carry out effective studies on alternative systems of care. It's easier to discredit by denying and denouncing than to fund and allow proper studies. I am not saying things like homeopathy should be considered a replacement for traditional medicine. But I think looking at where there might be opportunities to complement systems of treatment with each other is worthwhile.
                OJ makes a good point. Though I personally believe homeopathic medicine to be ineffective, one must acknowledge there is no financial gain for corporations to pay for expensive studies on treatments they cannot patent or protect.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Originally posted by orangejello View Post
                  That's your perogative. However I prefer to stay more open minded about things like homeopathy or naturapathy as I think it's arrogant and narrow minded to assume they have no value whatsoever. I suspect that the lack of "reputable scientific study" is in part due to the fact that the current scientific and medical establishment is hostile to anything that threatens their monopoly. Something that leaves little in terms of incentive, funding, and resources for researchers wishing to carry out effective studies on alternative types of treatment. It's easier to discredit by denying and denouncing than to fund and allow proper studies. I am not saying things like homeopathy should be considered a replacement for traditional medicine. But I think looking at where there might be opportunities to complement systems of treatment with each other is worthwhile.

                  As an aside the medical school where my brother teaches has introduced a course for students to explore alternative treatments. It's only an elective and relatively short (20 hours or so). But I see it as a positive thing.
                  People make a TON of money off of "cures" like homeopathy. Why don't they fund studies to prove they work? Probably because they don't. I am not narrow-minded enough to think that there are not new things to be learned in medicine and not foolish enough not to realize that big drug companies spend most of their research money funding boner and hair loss products because that is where the money is. The problem is that belief in some global conspiracy of the "medical establishment" to hide cheap cures hurts people. I have seen it first hand. People who are very ill are desperate people who are easily preyed upon by both charlatans as well as well meaning people peddling "medicine" that is ineffective and unproven. I contend that scenario happens far more often than people who are denied a cure or benefit by being denied access to "alternative" medicine.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Originally posted by Lazlo View Post
                    OJ makes a good point. Though I personally believe homeopathic medicine to be ineffective, one must acknowledge there is no financial gain for corporations to pay for expensive studies on treatments they cannot patent or protect.
                    Meh, people make tons of money bottling water and selling it. If it worked someone would be making billions selling it (instead of the millions they do now)

                    Comment


                      #11
                      I don't have anything against homeopathic medicines, only against companies who are making wild claims for the efficacy of the therapies with no evidence and then selling the therapies, which are essentially water and a vanishingly small amount of toxin or infectious agent, for much more than it cost to make. I am not talking about phase 3 clinical trial data but any evidence at all or even a rational basis for the therapy.

                      When asked in the House of Commons for an evidentiary basis for their claims, the Professional Standards Director of Boots, the pharmaceutical company that is selling homeopathic medicine on internet, Paul Bennett admitted that
                      "I have no evidence before me to suggest they are efficacious," he acknowledged. "And we look very much for the evidence to support that. It is about consumer choice for us."
                      http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandsty...c-remedies-nhs

                      In other words, he knows that there is no evidence to support efficacy of the products but he implies that Boots is simply acquiescing to consumer demand for the products. But, this does not mean that Boots should be making false claims about the products, saying that this product or that product can eliminate headaches, eczema, or diarrhea. More important, the National Health Service in England is spending an estimated £4 million on homeopathic treatments.

                      But, before we go any further, let us understand what we are talking about regarding homeopathic medicine. This big and fancy word (homeopathy) was coined nearly 200 years ago by a German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann, who believed that one should treat disease with the same material that caused the symptoms. So, for example, he advocates the use of using extracts of coffee to treat insomnia. However, he also claimed that only a little bit of the material is necessary. In fact, most homeopathic medicines contain undetectable amounts of the material [source]http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/homeo.html[/source] and the concept is that the water somehow retains a "memory" of the material and exerts its effects.

                      In the UK, there are now five homeopathic medicine hospitals and a number of practitioneers. Of course, there have been many attempts to test the efficacy of these treatments. Even when the evidence is very clear that the treatments do not work, its practitioneers and consumers insist that it must work. The House of Commons is now trying to get homeopathic therapies to meet the standards of all drugs approved by the NICE (National Institute of Clinical Excellence).

                      Its practitioneers claim that even if its effects are placebo-based, it should be accepted as efficacious and paid for by the National Health Service. I think that I can understand how upsetting that argument is for all the doctors who have to labor to get a therapy accepted and paid for by NICE, based on clinical trial evidence and then see these guys breeze in with treatments that have been shown in clinical trials to be ineffective, saying that they want to give it as placebo and charge a lot for the treatment. As Tracy Brown, the managing director of a group called Sense and Science, said:
                      "If you think about the rows around things like the prescription of Alz*heimer's drugs on the NHS, you are expecting people to look at the evidence to understand why certain drugs are available for people with a condition and certain are not. Then you throw the evidence up in the air and say that if people want it [a homeopathic medicine], they should have it. We just lose, as a society, the dividing line, the ability to talk to people about the evidence behind their medicines. I think that is a serious public health issue." This point was backed by Ernst. "Some people say the money spent on homeopathic medicines by the NHS is small fry, but for me it is a matter of principle. If the NHS adheres to evidence-based principles, it cannot go ahead and let homeopaths do what they like."
                      The Guardian article that I am citing, however, made a very interesting counter-argument for homeopathic medicine. They cited Cristal Sumner, chief executive of the British Homeopathic Association:
                      "Homeopathy helps patients and is not a placebo effect, and the government backs patient choice and the ability to have homeopathy on the NHS." She referred to comments by the health minister, Mike O'Brien, who said it would be "illiberal" to consider withdrawing services to patients. "Those doctors I work with in integrating homeopathy in NHS practice see it helping patients every day, and that is why they offer it," added Sumner.

                      Homeopathy absorbed a tiny fraction of the NHS budget, she said. "One must ask the committee, will patients then be forced to take conventional medicine at a higher cost?"

                      Sumner also pointed to evidence in the British Medical Journal that said adverse drug reactions in 2004 cost around £466m per year; and more than a quarter of a million patients were admitted to hospital in the UK because of harmful effects after taking drugs.

                      "However, far more worrying is the broader question of who should be in control of healthcare and deciding what we and our loved ones should be able to receive. Should it be a committee of MPs, or should it be we ourselves?"
                      Whew! Talk about turning common sense upside down.

                      Wise.
                      Last edited by Wise Young; 3 Feb 2010, 4:10 PM.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by t8burst View Post
                        Meh, people make tons of money bottling water and selling it. If it worked someone would be making billions selling it (instead of the millions they do now)
                        I cited £4 million as what the National Heath Service in UK pays for homeopathic medicine but the market is much bigger. In the United States, the homeopathic medicine market exceeds $2 billion [source]http://www.themedica.com/alternative-medicines/[/source]. But, that is only the tip of the iceberg. The other alternative medicines are much much larger:
                        • Aromatherapy ($400 million). This uses essential oils extracted from flowers, herbs, trees, etc. to promote physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.
                        • Ayurvedic Medicine ($60 billion). This is an ancient system of health care from India that emphasizes prevention, management, and treatment of health problems, particularly skin care products.
                        • Crystal Therapy (market size unknown). Various crystals are used to to release stress and pain, to promote energy balance. The crystals are placed on various parts of the body
                        • Magnetic Therapy ($2 billion)

                        Wise.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          um, Im not saying a bee sting can cure cancer, but my son stepped on a yellow jacket nest, which caused me to get stung about fifty times because could not run like the rest. my joints hurt very bad for a few days, however, I had less pain for almost a month. I am a little allergic to bee stings now, or I would try getting stung to have another month with less pain.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Originally posted by jody View Post
                            um, Im not saying a bee sting can cure cancer, but my son stepped on a yellow jacket nest, which caused me to get stung about fifty times because could not run like the rest. my joints hurt very bad for a few days, however, I had less pain for almost a month. I am a little allergic to bee stings now, or I would try getting stung to have another month with less pain.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Originally posted by Wise Young View Post
                              But, before we go any further, let us understand what we are talking about regarding homeopathic medicine. This big and fancy word (homeopathy) was coined nearly 200 years ago by a German doctor, Samuel Hahnemann, who believed that one should treat disease with the same material that caused the symptoms. So, for example, he advocates the use of using extracts of coffee to treat insomnia.
                              the law of similars. read a novel by that same name (by chris bohjalian) where the homeopath gets in trouble when someone she's treated goes overboard with this theory and dies. was an interesting story. anyway, bit off topic...

                              btw, naturopath and homeopath are not synonymous in my book and it sounds like some are thinking they are.

                              Comment

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