The Faculty of Homeopathy and the British Association of Homeopathic Veterinary Surgeons (BAHVS) have responded to the RCVS's new position on the use of complementary and alternative medicines in veterinary practice.

The organisations say that the RCVS position is that it expects veterinary surgeons to offer treatments "underpinned by a recognised evidence base".

However, what the RCVS position statement actually says is: "we expect that treatments offered by veterinary surgeons are underpinned by a recognised evidence base or sound scientific principles".

As yet, neither the Faculty of Homeopathy nor the BAHVS have explained which sound scientific principles homeopathy may be based on. 

The Faculty of Homeopathy and the BAHVS go on to say that misinformation concerning the efficacy of homeopathy has been promulgated by a small minority opposed to homeopathy. 

However, a survey carried out by VetSurgeon.org and Alex Gough MRCVS, Head of Medicine Referrals at Bath Veterinary Group in 2013 found that 83% of veterinary surgeons opposed homeopathy, 78% to the degree that they felt it should not be practised under the the professional title of MRCVS. 

The BAHVS response claims there is quality evidence supporting the efficacy of homeopathy, in direct contradiction to the many and various bodies and studies that have concluded the reverse, including the NHS, the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council, The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee and more recently, the European Academies Science Advisory Council (EASAC), an organisation representing the 29 national academies in Europe including the Royal Society, which recently declared in a statement that: "homeopathy is implausible" and "there is no rigorous evidence to substantiate the use of homeopathy in veterinary medicine."

The BAHVS claims there is growing interest in homeopathy from animal owners, "as they see conventional medicines regularly failing or producing adverse side-effects". It says: "this is especially true in livestock farming where there is a drive to reduce the dependence on antibiotics in light of concerns about antimicrobial resistance".

However, the recent EASAC statement specifically singled out the use of homeopathy in farm animals, saying that the lack of evidence is: "particularly worrying when such products are used in preference to evidence-based medicinal products to treat livestock infections."

The BAHVS response says that if the RCVS were to apply the same evidential criteria it is using for homeopathy to all treatments, there would be far fewer clinical options available to the profession; that the RCVS is limiting veterinary surgeons' clinical freedom. However, it doesn't substantiate this claim with examples of any clinical treatments used by veterinary surgeons which are not based on scientific principles and which would be limited if the same evidential standards applied.

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Photo: Multicolored homeopathy tubes isolated on a white background. Lush. Shutterstock.