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From the Townsend Letter
June 2008


Boiron Laboratories Disputes British Journal's Editorial on Homeopathy

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In its continued educational and research efforts for the advancement of homeopathy, Boiron Laboratories disputes an editorial comment published in The Lancet's November 17, 2007 issue on the basis that its author has misinterpreted results of meta-analyses on homeopathic medicines.1-5

The British medical journal features an editorial by Ben Goldacre on the "Benefits and Risks of Homeopathy." In his commentary, Goldacre suggests that the results from five large meta-analyses indicate that homeopathy produces no statistically significant benefit over placebo.

However, a thorough review of the studies' research evidence indicates positive principle conclusions in favor of homeopathy over placebo as quoted below:

  • The Kleijnen et al.1 study states that "the evidence of clinical trials is positive but not sufficient to draw any definite conclusions."
  • The Boissel et al.2 study reports that "[f]or 17 retained comparisons, for each method used, the result is a p-value well below .0001. This means that in at least one test, the null hypothesis (lack of effect of homeopathy) must be rejected.… The number of significant results is not likely due to chance alone."
  • The Linde et al.3 study concludes that "[t]he results of the available randomized trials suggest that individualized homeopathy has an effect over placebo."
  • The Cucherat et al.4 study concludes that "[t]here is evidence that homeopathic treatments are more effective than placebo."
  • The Shang et al.5 study indicates that "21 (19% homeopathic trials and nine (8%) conventional medicine tests were of higher quality. In both groups, smaller trials and those of lower quality showed more beneficial treatment effects than larger and higher-quality trials. When the analysis was restricted to large trials of higher quality, the odds ratio was 0.88 (95% CI 0.65-1.19) for homeopathy (eight trials) and 0.58 (0.39-0.85) for conventional medicine (six trials)."

Additionally, there is a sixth relevant meta-analysis6 also published in The Lancet that supports positive results for homeopathy, but was not mentioned in Goldacre's commentary. The study's authors concluded that "the results of our meta-analysis are not compatible with the hypothesis that the clinical effects of homeopathy are completely due to a placebo effect."

About Boiron
Boiron, world leader in homeopathy, is a $500 million public company with 3,800 employees in more than 60 countries. The company is best known for Oscillococcinum, its top-selling flu medicine, and Arnicare, for sore muscles and bruising. For over 70 years, Boiron has been committed to funding scientific research and educating the public and health care professionals on homeopathic medicines. Boiron maintains the highest manufacturing standards, complying with US Food and Drug Administration regulations, the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States, and drug Good Manufacturing Practices.

1. Kleijnen J, Knipschild P, ter Riet G. Clinical trials of homeopathy. BMJ. 1991; 302: 316-23.
2. Boissel JP, Cucherat M, Haugh M, Gauthier E. Critical literature review on the effectiveness of homoeopathy: overview of data from homeopathic medicine trials. Brussels, Belgium: Homoeopathic Medicine Research Group. Report to the European Commission. 1996; 195-210.
3. Linde K, Melchart D. Randomized controlled trials of individualized homeopathy: a state-of-the-art review.
J Alter Complement Med. 1998; 4: 371-88.
4. Cucherat M, Haugh MC, Gooch M, Boissel JP. Evidence of clinical efficacy of homeopathy: a meta-analysis of clinical trials.
Eur JClin Pharmacol. 2000; 56: 27-33.
5. Shang A, Huwiler-Müntener K, Nartey L, et al. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? Comparative study of placebo-controlled trials of homeopathy and allopathy.
The Lancet. 2005; 366: 726-32.
6. Linde K, Clausius N, Ramirez H, et al. Are the clinical effects of homeopathy placebo effects? A meta-analysis of placebo-controlled trials.
The Lancet. 1997; 350: 834-43.


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