Liverpool NHS PCT Drops Supernatural Cancer Claims from Website

Six weeks ago I wrote about how Liverpool Homeopathic ‘hospital’ was advertising that it offered cancer treatments based on the supernatural beliefs of mystic Rudolf Steiner. Observing that mistletoe grew on trees like a cancer, his homeopathic reasoning concluded that therefore mistletoe could be used to treat cancer. Given the obvious absurd and anti-scientific origins of this treatment, Liverpool PCT obviously feel that giving money to the Steiner company Weleda is value for money for its patients and not at all exploiting desperately ill people and giving them false hope.

I also put in a Freedom of Information request to the PCT to see how much money was being spent on Iscador – the brand name mistletoe treatment. That was a dead end, but it would appear that the PCT have taken notice of the attention.

The pages offering this treatment have now been taken down. The page ( just reads ‘page not found’ now. Other mentions of Iscador have also been removed from the PCT website. (You can see the original here:

Is this a coincidence? Probably not. There are a number of reasons why this could have occurred. Maybe someone came to their senses and realised what the bonkers homeopathy clinic was spending their budget on and decided to stop it. That would be nice, but there may be other reasons. A simpler reason might be that the homeopathy clinic at the Old Swan Health Centre thought better of letting the world know what they get up to and thought it might be better to operate a little more discretely. This might also be unlikely as the site still feels happy to advertise that it offers more supernatural homeopathy treatments for other ailments.

But it also might be possible that the PCT realised that they might be subject to prosecution under the Cancer Act of 1939. It is particularly reprehensible that they were naming a branded preparation as what they offered and so basically advertising the rather dubious products of the commercial arm of a mystical sect.

So we shall see. If anyone has any insight into this then feel free to drop me a line in confidence. Meanwhile, the Freedom of Information Act will be used, albeit slowly.


Update: 30/03/10

I have received some correspondence which sheds light on the removal of the mistletoe references.

A reader complained to the PCT about their promotion of Iscador on the NHS web site: this is their response.

So, the PCT wants to attempt to justify this mystical quackery with an appeal to popularity in Germany and gives no real reason for its removal.

It may be worth noting news today from Germany where a 12 year old girl recently died after relying on Iscador and her mother now faces a prison sentence for trusting in this stupidity and “breach of duty of care”.

(Translation via Google here)

Thanks to GG for this.

9 Comments on Liverpool NHS PCT Drops Supernatural Cancer Claims from Website

  1. Well done, sir.
    If we rational folk chip away at the edges of these infantile wishful ‘thinking’ practices, then eventually we shall be chipping away at the core.

  2. The letter says Iscador is a ‘licensed medicine’? Licensed by whom? The MHRA?

    I can find no such license on the MHRA’s website. Is there some other body in the UK that licenses medicines?

    However, the 2002 MHRA report says:

    “Clinical trials carried out with IscadorTM, a product produced from the naturally fermented plant juice of mistletoe, have concluded that IscadorTM may exhibit some weak antitumour effects but should only be used alongside conventional therapy in the long term treatment of cancer.”

    There is a subtle difference between this and what the PCT are claiming and there I can find no safety evaluation.

    Also, according to their 2008 annual report, a Dr Thomas Whitmarsh of the MHRA apparently attends a ‘yearly meeting on research into ‘ISCADOR’ and developing clinical guidelines’. I wonder if these guidelines have been issued?

  3. That is ridiculous that the PTC would help fund such quackery. It’s a shame to see people in such a medical state be preyed upon with merchants of false hope.

  4. As the mother of a 35 year old daughter with breast cancer, who has been told she has a 34% chance of surviving 10 years, I have to ask why the NHS/private sector medical facilities/ pharmaceutical would mind if she chose to take some ‘alternative’ remedies that might help. If she does nothing but rely on surgery/chemotherapy/radiotherapy she has a 66% chance of dying before her children leave school.
    Why should anyone on this site care if someone with a bad cancer prognosis decides to try something outside of the mainstream recommended options – that are clearly not that effective.

    • Hello Maggie

      Well, I would not want to stand in the way of your daughter doing anything.

      However, what I would like to do is point out that almost universally, the alternative cancer industry does not provide meaningful, truthful and full information to their prospective customers. Claims are made that are simply false, or lack meaningful evidence or are hopelessly delusional. Before embarking on any treatment, I think it is a good idea to be exposed to some independent voices on the matter.

      And their are risks too – which are rarely disclosed properly. And almost certainly you will lose cash – which may be important at such a critical time.

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