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Posted by Caroline Gaskin, Jun 6 2012 9:48PM

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Homeopathic Medicine is seriously under threat in the UK, please act now

Dear Colleagues in Complementary Health,

Us homeopaths are hugely concerned about coming changes to Section 10 of the Medicines Act. If they go ahead without an exemption clause no one in the UK will have access to homeopathic medicines unless they get a prescription from a homeopath and personally take it into a homeopathic pharmacy (of which there are 5 main ones in the UK). No one will be able to order remedies by mail order or post.

Many of your own clients will be using homeopathic medicines and can currently order online and buy over the counter homeopathic medicines. If this section of the Medicines Act is rubber stamped this month in it's current form then homeopathic medicine is likely to die out in the UK.

Over 6 million people in the UK choose to use homeopathy. Health practitioners from all walks of life recommend remedies 'off the cuff' to their clients. You will no longer be able to do this if the Medicines Act goes through in it's current form.

Really this is the tip of the iceberg. It's about the right to choose what healthcare works for you. It's about the right to buy an unlicenced medical product and will extend far beyond homeopathy. Most herbs, aromatherapy oils, many food supplements, Ayurvedic herbs, Traditional Chinese Medicine etc etc are unlicenced. Many therapies have no evidence they work apart from our vast clinical knowledge that what we do changes and saves lives.

Interestingly the homeopathic profession has had many successful trials published and what, perhaps, has been the reason that homeopathy has so viciously been pursued by the skeptics and bad science press is that the WHO pronounced in 2005 that homeopathy was the 2nd most popular health choice in the world after 'Western' or 'allopathic' medicine.

We need to unite in this. If you choose to use homeopathy yourself then please write to your MP with your concerns. It's easy, it's all explained below, it takes a few minutes.

If you have clients who use homeopathy please forward them this and encourage them to write to their MPs.

Best wishes, Caroline Gaskin MCPH

This is from correspondence I've been sending out.

On a topical Jubilee note, the Queen might choose to buy her remedies at Ainsworths Pharmacy as do some of the young Royals, but if the EU has it's unmerry way then the Royals, and us commoners, will all need a prescription from a licensed homeopath to take into a homeopathic pharmacy to buy even the lowliest vial of Arnica for bumps and bruises or Nux Vomica for a Jubilee Hangover.

There's an EU statute that gets rubber stamped sometime during June. When it does we will only be able to buy remedies with a written prescription at one of a handful of specialised pharmacies. There will be no postal sales, no website sales.

Currently over 6 million UK citizens choose to walk into healthstores, chemists as well as homeopathic pharmacies and purchase remedies.

I have serious misgivings about the affect this will have on our industry. I’m also concerned that my family, friends as well as my own clients will not be able to access homeopathy unless they pay for a full consultation and then physically go to the pharmacy to purchase and collect their remedies. This is wrong. It means access to homeopathic remedies becomes a matter of increased cost. It will prohibit the elderly, the infirm, those on low incomes, those who've had accidents and those with dependants from accessing the medicine they choose.

This is a human rights issue – the right to choose what works for you in terms of health is a basic human right.

For the majority of homeopathic users, access to homeopathic medicines is only possible through the Internet or mail order.

This is a consumer choice issue. Complementary medicine is a growth industry in the UK, showing growth of between 11 to 14% in past years – not many other industries can boast this. Our Government should be promoting it in these financially stricken times.

Practitioners & the homeopathic organisations are asking the 6 million people in the UK who use homeopathic remedies to write to their MP’s.

It's not a White Paper that will get debated in Parliament, but if enough of us get our MP's jumping they will talk about it and have to represent their constituency. They are bound to answer you within 8 days of your email or letter.

You will get a fairly standard reply (I've seen it) and it says that we are protected but the Section 10 od the statute doesn't say actually say that (read below).
In the main there are some very supportive MP's particularly when you see this as an issue of consumer choice, increased cost and human rights.

Please write to your MP if you wish to continue to purchase homeopathic remedies
See overleaf for details of how to do this, thanks you for your support,
Best wishes, Caroline Gaskin

A few helpful points that could be used in your letter

a) Please voice your concern that a draft proposal set out by the MHRA, as part of its consolidation and review of the Medicines Act 1968, could have a significant impact on your ability as a patient to access homeopathic medicines in the UK.
b) In its current form Section 10 of the proposal would only allow unlicensed homeopathic medicines to be bought directly from a pharmacist face-to-face, in effect outlawing the purchase of these medicines over the telephone or via online ordering. It also means more resources are employed in what is currently a very sustainable health system ie. extra travel, extra finance.
c) Keeping Section 10 unchanged is not acceptable to patients, practitioners or manufacturers
d) Please voice your concern that if this affects your family, friends in terms of access to homeopathy unless they pay for a full consultation and then physically go to the pharmacy to purchase and collect their remedies.
e) The wording of the Medicines Act of 1968 does not adequately cover the evolving practice of homeopathy in the UK. The profession needs clarity in the language of the Medicines Act that will confirm in law access to the current supply routes for unlicensed homeopathic medicines
f) Further many people overseas purchase from our UK pharmacies. This is in fact a growth industry showing growth of between 11 and 14% in recent years and should be supported in these times of UK financial hardship!
g) Incidentially remedies cost a fraction of allopathic medicines and tax the earth far less.
h) If you too feel this is matter of human rights - surely we should be able to choose what works for us? Please voice this. Personally I have chosen this and other forms of complementary health to meet all our family needs for over 30 years. I've done this on a low income, perhaps saving in other areas to get the healthcare we choose.
i) I also understand that a central remit of the Government health policy is to increase patient choice. Section 10 will eliminate choice for people like me who want to be treated with homeopathy.
j) In view of the tight timetable for approval, I would like to call on your urgent support in getting the Health Minister to revise slightly the proposed language of the revised Medicines Act to ensure that I have continued access to a full range of homeopathic medicines and my right to choose homeopathic treatment is maintained.

Finding your MP You can telephone the House of Commons Information Office on 020 7219 4272 and they will provide you with the name and contact details of your MP. Or, if you prefer, go to the UK Parliament website

If you prefer to post your letter rather than send it online, you can write to them at: The House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA.

Alternatively you can identify the name of your MP and send your message via the online site which is an independent, charitable project to help you contact your elected representatives.
Ishbel Poole
Jun 7 2012 8:09AM
Thanks for posting this Caroline and spreading the message. I'm waiting for a reply from Diane Abbott MP.
Caroline Gaskin
Jun 7 2012 8:16AM
Hi, Diane has been particularly slow! Suggest prompting here if she's not replied within 8 days! Caroline x
Ishbel Poole
Jun 7 2012 7:46PM
Will do, do you have a sharp stick I could borrow?
Jane Hopwood
Jun 10 2012 9:41PM
I do hope the government will stop meddling with our right - right to a freedom of choice. I sincerely hope they listen to the comments they are getting. Best wishes jane
Caroline Gaskin
Jun 10 2012 10:41PM
Thanks for your support Jane!

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