German Homeopathy Companies Pay Journalist who Smears UK Academic


Professor Edzard Ernst attacked by paid writers.

A consortium of pharmaceutical companies in Germany have been paying a journalist €43,000 to run a set of web sites that denigrates an academic who has published research into  their products. 

These companies, who make homeopathic sugar pills, were exposed in the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung in an article, Schmutzige Methoden der sanften Medizin (The Dirty Tricks of Alternative Medicine.)

This story has not appeared in the UK media. And it should. Because it is a scandal that directly involves the UK’s most prominent academic in Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

The newspaper accuses the companies of funding the journalist, Claus Fritzsche, to denigrate critics of homeopathy. In particular, the accusation is that Fritzsche wrote about UK academic Professor Edzard Ernst on several web sites and then linked them together in order to raise their Google ranking. Fritzsche continually attacks Ernst of being frivolous, incompetent and partisan.

The newspaper said,

It is simple to use Google to pillory someone: all it needs is a professional-looking Web page in which a person’s credibility is undermined. Then the name of the person to discredit should be mentioned in the text as often as possible. The page will be automatically ranked in the top results when someone searches for the person. For people whose credibility is their capital, such as journalists and academics, this digital character assassination is particularly devastating. [My translation]

Edzard Ernst was the first  Professor of Complementary Medicine and held the Laing Chair at the University of Exeter in South-West England. The chair was set up by Sir Maurice Laing in 1993 to provide  rigorous research into alternative medicines. Laing realised that high quality research was required if various forms of alternative medicine were to become mainstream. Ernst said in an inte rview that Laing believed that “it was more important to conduct good research to a standard that would be acceptable even to sceptics, than to bend over backwards in an attempt to generate positive findings”.

Written By: Andy Lewis
continue to source article at


  1. This is one layer. One wonders how many of these society conceals and then if the guy at one end has any idea what goes at the other. Nudges and winks run the world don’t you think? “Smart” seems to be a concept that suggests taking a piece of the pie of deception. Most do from the news I read!

  2. I didn’t know there was a Professor of Complementary Medicine.  I think that’s great that homeopathy and such is subject to some genuine scientific scrutiny, not just dismissed out of hand because there’s no currently acceptable theory for how it might work.

    It’s also great that this industry-funded denigration is exposed.   It does suggest, however, that those who produce the pills don’t believe in them either, else why adopt this cynical tactic.

    Like climate change skeptics,  you need to follow the money to see where they’re coming from.

    Meanwhile, it’s time for my placebos….


    Homeopathic, ayurvedic and unani doctors had gone on a day’s strike
    earlier this week. Dr Bahubali Shah, president of Homeopathic
    association, Maharashtra, said that during an emergency, it becomes
    difficult for general practitioners or rural doctors to prescribe
    emergency medicines. “For some emergency problems like fever, vomiting,
    or dehydration, allopathic drugs work faster. It becomes a problem if
    non-allopathic doctors cannot prescribe them even in times of
    emergency,” he said.

    Why don’t they stay on strike indefinitely and do everyone a favour.

    If there is an emergency, let qualified pharmacists or supervised paramedics, step into the gap, not these quacks!

  4. LOL, make sure those placebos are approved by a qualified placebologist!

    I think this scandal is disgusting. The company’s smear campaign reeks of desperation and dishonesty. I hate fat cats who mislead people in need of help. They represent the worst of what’s wrong with letting non-mainstream medicine off the hook, with encouraging “alternative ways of doing things/of knowing” attitudes, with under-appreciating the work of scores of medical experts. At least there are people like Ernst who put these so-called alternative practitioners to the test.

  5. My experience with pharma was good and bad. My pharma clients ranged between being very strict on sticking to the monograph and others not so much. I had one client decide, just before the winter Olympics in Vancouver, that an Olympic themed booth at a conference in Vancouver would be a fantastic idea.

    I explained that sports and the growth hormone product they were promoting were not a good blend. I sited two Major League Baseball trials that were currently underway in the courts for growth hormone abuse. They went ahead with it anyway. I refused to work on it. Fucking idiots.

    Same company also did a promo pushing a device on Turner Syndrome kids. You can advertise a device. Of course, this device can only use the growth hormone they provide.

    Did I tell you about insulin pump fashion, these days, and the children who need them? Turns out the new angle for insulin pumps and children is to make them look cool. The best pump on the market doesn’t look so cool because it’s built by engineers and is all about the technology. 80% market share last time I checked but it’s eroding.

    Shame is, their competition can’t compete on tech so they go cool looking, instead. The big, big problem is that parents are letting kids decide which pump they want, as if they were all the same, and many doctors don’t give a shit or haven’t been educated enough to even suggest the better choice.

    They are not all the same and the pump makers know this. What was my last project for hi-tech pump company? Kid focused advertising that made the pump look cool. Athletes, actors, celebrity folk in general… you know, the worst roll models you can find (our athlete was had up for drug use, BTW). We had skins, we had holders. I suggested an education package for doctors to use and pass on to parents to actively direct parents to make the right choice for the child. It was like I had killed a cat and started eating it right there in the boardroom.

  6. Have just read the comments made by Claus Fritzsche on his website in reply to Jens Lubbadeh’s article (…. The man is pure slime. He accuses Jens of unsupported claims, irresponsible journalism and is thanking the SZ for the publicity it has generated. Lots of attempts to discredit the journalist without actually denying that he was in the pay of the homoeopathy companies. He also lists a number of ‘leading questions’ that the journalist gave him to answer in an email. I understand that Weleda no longer wishes to be associated with him. Pure scum.

  7. Unfortunately, another academic stained in his battle to expose the results of magical thinking!

  8. Really, we should encourage adherents to homeopathy to read Hahnemann’s Organon more. At least tell them of paragraph 260, which details what obstacles a successful homeopathy cure faces.

    Try to read without laughing, I could not. (…, right at the bottom of the page)

  9. Did you mean this list of obstacles (reproduced below, fair use I hope)?  Well,

    a) for the time, a reasonable physician might have advised avoiding most of these things anyway, and the patient might start to feel better as a consequence.  It’s a pretty broad brush though.  I like the caution at the end about not overdoing the restrictions.

    b) no wonder pharmaceuticals were such a raging success – no such petty restrictions.

    c) fortunately my placebos are unaffected by coffee.

    d) plenty of excuses for the physician when the “cure” doesn’t work.


    fine Chinese and other herb teas; beer prepared with medicinal vegetable substances

    unsuitable for the patient’s state; so-called fine liquors made with medicinal

    spices; all kinds of punch; spiced chocolate; odorous waters and perfumes of many kinds;

    strong-scented flowers in the apartment; tooth powders and essences and perfumed sachets

    compounded of drugs; highly spiced dishes and sauces; spiced cakes and ices; crude

    medicinal vegetables for soups; dishes of herbs, roots and stalks of plants possessing

    medicinal qualities; asparagus with long green tips, hops, and all vegetables possessing

    medicinal properties, celery, onions; old cheese, and meats that are in a state of

    decomposition, or that passes medicinal properties (as the flesh and fat of pork, ducks

    and geese, or veal that is too young and sour viands), ought just as certainly to be kept

    from patients as they should avoid all excesses in food, and in the use of sugar and salt,

    as also spirituous drinks, undiluted with water, heated rooms, woollen clothing next the

    skin, a sedentary life in close apartments, or the frequent indulgence in mere passive

    exercise (such as riding, driving or swinging), prolonged suckling, taking a long siesta

    in a recumbent posture in bed, sitting up long at night, uncleanliness, unnatural

    debauchery, enervation by reading obscene books, reading while lying down, Onanism or

    imperfect or suppressed intercourse in order to prevent conception, subjects of anger,

    grief or vexation, a passion for play, over-exertion of the mind or body, especially after

    meals, dwelling in marshy districts, damp rooms, penurious living, etc. All these things

    must be as far as possible avoided or removed, in order that the cure may not be

    obstructed or rendered impossible. Some of my disciples seem needlessly to increase the

    difficulties of the patient’s dietary by forbidding the use of many more, tolerably

    indifferent things, which is not to be commended.

  10. well at least it justifies the high cost of homeopathy. i used to wonder what they could possibly need so much money for

  11. Was anyone surprised that when Radavan Karadic was finally tracked down and arrested he had been making his living as an alternative medicine guru? The jump from quack nationalist to quack practitioner must have been easy.

  12. There are lots of complaints about ‘big Pharma’ ect and how it promotes itself but this is a huge quackindustry. At least real medicines are tested rigourously.

  13. A consortium of pharmaceutical companies”…. a company that produces homeopathic nonsense can’t possibly be called a pharmaceutical company…

  14. But to claim that he cannot speak about homeopathy because he has not formally trained in such areas is to insist that you have a degree in Invisible Imperial Textiles before mentioning the Emperor has no clothes on.” Oh, how I love this quote!!!

  15. For those who missed the lengthy list of “Obstacles” to homeopathy, here are some highlights:

    “[avoid]  coffee, celery, onions,
    all excesses in food, and in the use of sugar and salt,
    [avoid] spirituous drinks, undiluted with water,
    frequent indulgence in … swinging,
    debauchery, enervation by reading obscene books … Onanism or
    imperfect or suppressed intercourse in order to prevent conception.”

    (I shortened the list, the original just went onanon….)

    So, you see, no wonder homeopathy doesn’t work for you, you bunch of miserable skeptics.  It’s because you can’t lay off the McDonalds or the gin or the coffee or the swinging or those other Unwholesome Practices for long enough.

    Placebos, on the other hand……. Oops, moderator might delete link to my online placebo store

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