Homing in on homeopathy

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Homeopathy has been around for centuries. But what was once a niche product formulated for an individual user has grown into a multibillion-dollar over-the-counter marketplace. Just what is homeopathy? How are homeopathic products advertised? And how does the FTC Act apply to ad claims? Those are a few of the topics on the table at Homeopathic Medicine & Advertising: An FTC Workshop, scheduled for September 21, 2015.

We’re hosting the workshop to hear from diverse voices, including medical professionals, industry representatives, consumer advocates, and government regulators. The agenda is still in the works, but here are some of the subjects under consideration:

  • The science behind homeopathy;
  • How the market has changed and how homeopathic products are advertised;
  • What consumers understand about homeopathy; and
  • How established FTC truth-in-advertising principles apply.

If you have relevant research or perspectives on homeopathy you’d like to share, file your comments online. If you have suggestions about the agenda or would like to volunteer as a panelist, email us at homeopathy@ftc.gov by August 1st.

The September 21st workshop will be held at the FTC’s Constitution Center Conference Center, located at 400 7th Street, S.W., in Washington, D.C., on the L'Enfant Plaza Metro line. The event is free and there’s no need to pre-register.

Bookmark the Homeopathic Medicine & Advertising workshop page, which we’ll update when the agenda is set.

 

Comments

Homeopathy is basically water and sugar pills. In any other sphere of commerce it would be treated as fraud.
If the public actually understood basic science, and if they knew what homeopathy actually is, how it is made and how it defies the laws of fundamental physics, chemistry and biology, then mostly they wouldn't use it.

Ok, in your very educated opinion, homeopathy is fraud. prove it.

It's been proven hundreds of times in scientific journals. Is that good enough for you?

This is very timely as growth in this industry in not controlled well and one has many "speedy money makers" involved rather than directing it in right direction.

I have many friends and myself who have spent thousands of dollars with pharmaceuticals and medical doctors. Only to have the illness get worse and being told it is all in your head. I started seeing a LICENSED MEDICAL DOCTOR who uses homeopathy treatment on her patients.GUESS WHAT!! I am not sick anymore. HOMEOPATHY TREATS THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SYMPTOMS.

nohsat writes:
«HOMEOPATHY TREATS THE PROBLEM, NOT THE SYMPTOMS.»

I see that comment being made lot and yet, according to homeopathic theory, which homeopathic remedy is appropriate for a given condition is allegedly determined based on a "proving". A proving is the administration of a homeopathic product to healthy people in order to derive a "drug picture" of the product by observing its effects on them. That is, a proving is an observation of symptoms caused by consumption of a substance.

It is based on these observed effects that homeopaths determine what conditions that product can treat. For instance, in homeopathy's "origin story" [URL removed] Samuel Hanhnemann claimed to have observed that self administration of cinchona bark caused a relapsing fever and thus he determined that this is why it would be useful in curing fevers. Note that there's nothing in that observation regarding what caused the intermittent fevers upon ingesting cinchona bark or about what fever inducing conditions cinchona bark would treat (a fever is only a symptom) or why and via what mechanism. All there is in that is a sympathetic magic like dictum of like cures like. That is all. Unlike with scientific approaches to disease, there's absolutely nothing in homeopathy regarding etiology and pathophysiology of any illness.

In other words, homeopathy would be the very definition of treating the symptoms rather than the underlying problem were it not the case that homeopathic theory is so profoundly flawed that it cannot even do that right.

Manufacturers of homeopathic products should be required to demonstrate the efficacy of their remedies. Self reported homeopathic cures are not science and should not treated as proof. Homeopathy is fraud.

I believe that this review by the Food and Drug Administration of homeopathic "remedies" is long overdue.

It is hard to understand how a system of belief and practice that has no scientific evidence for its efficacy can make claims that its products have any measurable effect, other than placebo, in order to sell its products to an unsuspecting public.

There is absolutely no reason that homeopathic products making a claim of a medical benefit shouldn't be required to demonstrate that such a benefit actually exists, in the same manner as any other medicinal product, or product that claims a medicinal benefit, must demonstrate.

The FTC should do everything in its regulatory powers to hold the homeopathic industry accountable for its false claims and the injuries and deaths that result from the charlatans selling lies to gullible and desperate people.

Please use science-based critical approach towards the claims of homeopathy and any proposed medical treatment. It looks like this is a fraud and beyond a placebo effect, does nothing to cure people. Anecdotes are not evidence. Do not endorse false claims that do pass rigorous scientific examination.

In Britain, homeopathy is the norm -it treats the cause and not symptoms with no side effects. The AMA would love to to put homeopathic remedies to rest- because they work and dont make the industry any money- homeopathic remedies WORK for me and my family. Next time you bruise yourself try an Arnica cream- the bruise disappears in a day if it appears at all and it relieves pain. My grand kids ask for it when they have an injury because it works...Out of the mouths of babes...

Nanotechnology proves homeopathy. Nano- pharmacology is the future of medicine - as drug stocks fall and the drug bubble pops - safe and effective homeopathy products will cover those losses.
Homeopathy is as soft as a dew drop with the power of a tsunami wave.

Regarding T's statement: "Next time you bruise yourself try an Arnica cream- the bruise disappears in a day if it appears at all and it relieves pain." If Arnica really does this, then it should be easy to demonstrate the effect in a double-blind, placebo controlled study, with sufficient statistical power. Continual resistance to allowing homeopathic products to be evaluated in this way (the way conventional drugs must be evaluated before earning the FDA's approval) is unethical, as it's tantamount to being satisfied with a possible placebo level of effect, and allowing coincidence to provide the sole "evidence" for effectiveness.

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