This alarms consumer health advocates, who contend that homeopathy is quackery repackaged in a New Age veneer. They argue that homeopathy's clinical evidence is flimsy and that its basic tenets violate scientific laws. They are furious with the Food and Drug Administration for not requiring the proof of safety and effectiveness for homeopathic drugs that it demands for other medications. And they are appalled that insurance companies may unwittingly be paying for homeopathy when physicians fail to report their use of homeopathic treatments.
Individually, most doctors don't condone homeopathy-if they even know what it is. But some have softened their resistance and a few are testing the waters. Dr. Gershon Lesser, a Los Angeles physician and host of a radio talk show called The Health Connection on KCRW-FM and KGIL-AM, invited Dr. Ronald W. Davey, Queen Elizabeth's homeopath, to speak for 10 minutes on his show. But Lesser extended Davey's time to 1 1/2 hours because the show was swamped with calls. "There are enough people who seem interested in homeopathy for us to at least take a look," Lesser said. "I'm beginning to feel that homeopathy does play a complementary role."
It doesn't surprise [John Renner] that some physicians are attracted to homeopathy. "I'd guess that 1% to 3% of MDs have a learning disability as far as good science is concerned," he said. But what worries him more is that maverick physicians and the public will treat homeopathy as a ticket to more extreme quackery. "If you can get someone to believe in homeopathy, the next thing they're into is crystals, coffee enemas, hair analysis and Mexican cancer clinics. . . . If homeopathy is ever going to amount to anything it's got to totally separate itself from the rest of organized quackery."