The Feds have decided to go after the advertisers of homeopathic medicine, the stuff like nerve tonics, pain relievers, penis growing pills, claiming that most of their claims are absolute and total bullshit. The FTC says will either have to get scientific backing for the efficacy of their health claims or “effectively communicate the lack of scientific evidence backing them and that their claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts.”
“This is a real victory for reason, science, and the health of the American people,” said Michael De Dora, public policy director for the Center for Inquiry, which had urged the FCC to crack down on what it said was false advertising of homeopathic products. “The FTC has made the right decision to hold manufacturers accountable for the absolutely baseless assertions they make about homeopathic products.”
Consumers are constantly being misled about homeopathics,” Edzard Ernst, an emeritus professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, told BuzzFeed News. “They believe that they are natural, safe, and effective — none of this is true.”
Homeopathic products can also pose rare safety risks, according to the FDA. In 2009, for example, the agency received more than 130 accounts of people who lost their sense of smell after taking Zicam homeopathic cold remedies. One expert testified to the FDA that those accounts raised concerns about toxic levels of zinc.
Michelle Rusk, senior staff attorney in the FTC advertising practices division, said in a public hearing Sept. 21 on over-the-counter homeopathic products that advertisements lauding the health benefits of medical products need to be based on competent, reliable, and rigorous scientific support.
“As a general rule, for treatment claims, we expect randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical studies—not in vitro studies, not animal studies, not anecdotal evidence, no matter how compelling it is,” she said. “Second, we expect the studies to be internally valid. That means well-designed, reliably conducted, using procedures accepted in the field of research. It also means that results are not just statistically significant but also strong enough to be clinically meaningful.
The law enforcement agency is responding to decades of growth in the market for over-the-counter homeopathy products. And its examination coincides with the Food and Drug Administration’s reconsideration of a 1988 policy that allows, without FDA approval, the manufacture and sale of products listed in the Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States.