Early Day Motion 286: Homeopathic Medicines in the Treatment of Moderate to Severe Depression

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Early Day Motion 286: Homeopathic Medicines in the Treatment of Moderate to Severe Depression was an Early Day Motion proposed by David Tredinnick on 21st June 2010. It was one of four Early Day Motions supporting homeopathy proposed by Tredinnick at the same time, the others being EDM 284: BMA Annual Representative Meeting Motions on Homeopathy, EDM 285: Effect of Homeopathic Remedies on Breast Cancer Cells, and EDM 287: Homeopathy and Chronic Primary Insomnia.

The motion stated:

"That this House welcomes the double-blind study conducted at the outpatient clinic at Jundiai Medical School in São Paulo, Brazil, which consisted of patients with moderate to severe depression; notes that patients were randomly assigned to a double-blind treatment with individualised homeopathic Q-potencies or fluoxetine (Prozac); further notes that the non-inferiority analysis indicated that the homeopathic Q-potencies were not inferior as compared to fluoxetine in treatment of this sample; observes that the study is the first randomised controlled double-blind trial with a reasonable number of subjects to draw conclusions about the homeopathic treatment of depression; acknowledges that homeopathy is recognised as a medical specialty in Brazil; and calls on the Government to carry out further research into this area."

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Background

The study mentioned in the motion was Adler et al, Homeopathic Individualized Q-potencies versus Fluoxetine for Moderate to Severe Depression: Double-blind, Randomized Non-inferiority Trial, Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine (August 2009).

The study was discussed by blogger Michael Grayer who noted that as a non-inferiority trial with a small sample size, its marginal conclusion that we could not be confident that homeopathy was any worse than Fluoxetine (Prozac) was not impressive. There have also been questions raised about how effective anti-depressant drugs such as Fluoxetine are when compared to placebo, for example in the analysis on the Ministry of Truth blog.

Amendment

An extensively amended motion, EDM 286A1, was proposed by Julian Huppert. The amended motion stated:

"That this House notes the study published in August 2009 in the journal e-Cam by UC Adler et al, conducted in São Paulo on 91 patients with depression, which claimed that individualised homeopathic treatments were not inferior to fluoxetine, a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor; further notes that only 55 patients completed the study and that the finding of non-inferiority, while statistically significant, was marginal; further notes that fluoxetine is considered by many to be no more or barely more effective than a placebo in such patients and that this study therefore merely provides further evidence that homeopathy treatment is no more effective than placebo treatment; and supports the findings of the Fourth Report from the Science and Technology Select Committee of Session 2009-10, Evidence Check 2: Homeopathy, HC45, namely that there are ethical problems in prescribing patients placebos without full candour, that the evidence base is clear that homeopathy is not effective beyond placebo and so scarce NHS funds should not be spent commissioning it at a time when, due to cost, the health service is not even able to provide its patients with treatments that have been clearly shown to be effective, and that putting patients through pointless further clinical trials, and the spending of scarce public sector funds on research into homeopathy cannot be justified."

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List of signatories

The original motion was signed by 14 MPs:

The following MPs signed, but later withdrew their signatures:

Amendment

The amended motion 286A1 was signed by 10 MPs: