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Healthy Skepticism Library item: 19618

Warning: This library includes all items relevant to health product marketing that we are aware of regardless of quality. Often we do not agree with all or part of the contents.


Publication type: Electronic Source

Legal warning on homeopathy
Indaily's Blog 2011 Aug 30

Full text:

AN ADELAIDE lawyer, representing more than a dozen victims of an infectious homeopathy remedy, says it’s a warning for anyone considering alternative health treatment.

Mal Byrne, from Tindall Gask Bentley lawyers, has so far won compensation for five of the victims, who were injected with a fluid contaminated by mycobacterium chelonae, causing illness and severe scarring in some cases.

Byrne said the problem was that homeopathy was not regulated by the government.

“Homeopathy is currently self-regulated, which isn’t enough to hold the practitioners to account and ensure that high health standards are met,” he said.

It’s believed as many as 50 people were infected after being injected with a solution by Gawler “wellness” homeopath Monika Milka while performing biomesotherapy, said to cure various aches and pains.

“She injected them in multiple sites across their bodies, 20 or 30 sites, usually the abdomen and the legs, sometimes the arms and even in the neck on a couple of occasions,” Byrne said.

“Wherever she put the needles in they would get these nasty sores that would be sore and weep.”

The first signs of problems occurred in Easter 2008. Eventually the Royal Adelaide Hospital took cultures and tests showed it was mycobacterium chelonae.

“A lot of them thought it was cancer or other nasty things and they all had to have blood tests for HIV,” Byrne said.

“During that period when they didn’t have a diagnosis they were all quite terrified about what it was. Then once the hospital had isolated the bacteria they all had to go on these antibiotics that had quite strong side effects – nausea, diarrhoea and the ladies, a lot of them got thrush.

“One gentleman in particular was much worse affected. He was very ill. They had to change his antibiotics. He was bedridden for a couple of weeks, he was just feeling so lousy.

“So it wasn’t a minor thing. Some people only got a few sores that eventually went away. But the more you had of the treatment, the worse you are.”

Byrne said his firm had settled five claims, with nine still pending. He encouraged other possible victims to come forward.

“People have a right to undergo treatment with the expectation that all of the necessary precautions have been taken, and for many a duty of care has been breached.”

Police charged Milka in 2009 with six counts of committing an act likely to cause harm, but the charges were dropped. She continues to practice at Gawler and Wallaroo.

Byrne said the case exposed a large gap in the health system’s set of precautions.

“It’s not regulated, other than this self-regulation that the Homeopathic Association says is in place. This lady is still operating from the two premises. As I understand it, the Health Department has banned her from injecting anyone.

“The Homeopathic Association say they discipline people for breaches. I’m not aware that they have done anything to this lady.”

Milka’s lawyer Ralph Bleechmore said his client wanted to get on with her work.

“There were several theories about how fluid became contaminated but my client feels she was not responsible,” he told The Advertiser.


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