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Standards Committee to review complementary and alternative medicines guidance

20 December 2016

Our Standards Committee will be undertaking a review of our current guidance on alternative and complementary medicines and therapies in January 2017.

The decision to review the guidance (which was announced in the November 2016 edition of RCVS News) has been made in light of a number of different factors. This includes changes to the way that homeopathy is viewed by the National Health Service as well as a recent statement made by the Advertising Standards Authority regarding its advice and guidance on claims made in marketing materials (including websites) about homeopathic treatments.

Our current position on alternative and complementary therapies, including homeopathy, can be found below:

As the regulator of the veterinary profession, we emphasise the importance of evidence-based veterinary medicine. We recommend that there should therefore be a cautious approach to homeopathy for animals and that normal evidential standards be applied to complementary treatments. We believe it is also essential that such treatments, until they can be proved, are complementary rather than ‘alternative’ and that they are therefore used alongside conventional treatment.  

However, whatever views there may be within the veterinary profession, it is clear that there is a demand from some clients for complementary therapies for their animals. It is better that they should seek advice from a veterinary surgeon - who is qualified to make a diagnosis, and can be held to account for the treatment given - rather than turning to a practitioner who does not have veterinary training.

Furthermore, homeopathy is currently accepted by society and recognised by UK medicines legislation and does not, in itself, cause harm to animals. While this is the case it is difficult to envisage any justification for banning a small number of veterinary surgeons from practising homeopathy.

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