Thursday, 17 November 2016

What has changed?

As mentioned in the introduction, post consolidation of the Medicines Act 2012, very little has changed on the legislation front that directly affects the either the practice of homeopathy or the manufactures, sale and distribution of homeopathic remedies.

The basic position has remained unchanged and has done for many years. That is to say, there are questions of the legality of supply of unregistered homeopathic medicines and also the advertising of homeopathic medicines and services.

The Society of Homeopaths and the Professional Standards Authority
The Society of Homeopaths (SoH) to great fanfare, became an Accredited Register with the Professional Standards Authority (PSA) in September 2014 after a process of accreditation.

It must be understood that PSA accreditation is not an endorsement of the practice of homeopathy or homeopathic remedies. Indeed, as part of the accreditation process, objections to the SoH being accredited were raised which were not accepted (note that some of the links on the Quackometer blog no longer work - the PSA would have appear to have removed certain documents from their website). The question of whether accreditation is seen by the public as a form of endorsement of homeopathy is moot.

Accreditation is an indication that the SoH has demonstrated that it can operate in such a way as to meet certain standards set out by the PSA (see the process of accreditation link).

What is clear that that accreditation has resulted in changes to the SoH's Code of Ethics, disciplinary procedures and the composition of the Board of Directors. 

Although the PSA have no powers to investigate complaints made against members of an Accredited Register, they do have the sanction of removing accreditation if they determine that complaints have not been handled correctly by the registering body i.e the registering body has failed to meet the appropriate standards. But that does apply to non-compliance with any of the other of the standards.

What is interesting is that the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths rejected the PSA Accredited register route, citing compliance with the CAP Codes as one of their objections.

Homeopathy and the Advertising Standards Authority
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) have made several important rulings against individual advertisers since 2012 as well as against the SoH. A more detailed analysis of some of the rulings by the Nightingale Collaboration can be found here.

The ASA has issued guidelines on advertising alternative therapies in general. More recently, it has issued specific guidelines for homeopathy. It has also written to all homeopaths instructing them to amend their online advertising and marketing by the 3rd November 2016. The actual letter is worth reading. The ASA will be conducting spot checks to determine whether websites are now compliant. At the time of writing many websites are not compliant.

It is interesting to note that ASA did work with the SoH on these guidelines and the SoH website also contains some guidance too.

But then this appears on the SoH website. The SoH are seeking legal advice to challenge the legitimacy of the ASA? Incredible. But that's only the half of it. The Quackometer blog has more information and analysis.

The antipathy of certain homeopaths towards the ASA is worth exploring further...

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