Homeopathic ‘medicine’ disposal

GP magazine has used FOI requests to confirm that of two thirds of Primary Care Trusts, 31% were paying for patients to use the highly-diluted homeopathic remedies despite evidence that these have no value whatsoever.

Homeopathic remedies comprise massive dilutions of a substance that in larger amounts might produce symptoms similar to the condition being treated. The BMA and others reject completely any therapeutic claims for homeopathic medicines and claim that NHS money should not be used to find these treatments.

And what of those homeopathic ‘remedies’. To all intents and purposes, they are medicines as defined under the Medicines Act, and will often be prescribed by homeopathists and registered medical practitioners who also practice homeopathy.

So how to dispose of homeopathic medicines waste? Most believe that they contain nothing but water, but current regulation might propose high temperature incineration as pharmaceutical waste.

As far back as 2007  we had discussed this issue (see the Clinical Waste Discussion Forum archive file)  and as yet there is no answer.

Just how do you dispose of a ‘medicine’ that has been diluted so much that it does not contain one single molecule of the purported active substance? While the official line on de minimis drug concentrations in clinical waste is at best scientifically irrational and at worst simply obstructive, it seems sure to have the regulators spinning across their desks trying to work that out. In this case, I do not envy them the task since inevitably  it will highlight the irrationality of current disposal regulations.

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