FDA’s Tougher Stance on Homeopathy Welcomed by Center for Inquiry

For Immediate Release: December 18, 2017
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced today that it would take a harder line on the manufacturers of homeopathic “remedies,” targeting products that science and evidence indicate pose the greatest risk to Americans’ health and safety, a move hailed by the Center for Inquiry (CFI) as encouraging and long-overdue.

“For years, the Center for Inquiry has pushed for the government to protect consumers against the pseudoscientific sham that is homeopathy,” said Nick Little, CFI’s Vice President and General Counsel. “Science shows homeopathic products to be at best nothing more than placebos, and at worst, a serious health risk with fatal consequences for some. Nevertheless, these products are peddled to the general public without adequate controls on their production, raising the risk of impurities and additives actively harming those who take them.”

Homeopathy is based on an unsubstantiated 18th Century German idea that like treats like – if something can be shown to cause symptoms, that same substance can be used to treat them. Homeopaths believe that dilution of that substance increases its strength. Homeopathic products are often diluted to such levels that no trace at of the initial ingredient exists. For example, Oscillococcinum, a homeopathic preparation that is claimed to treat influenza, consists of the liver and heart of a particular kind of duck, diluted to a level of 200C, leaving one part duck offal to 10400 parts water.

By way of comparison, current estimates suggest that the known universe contains up to 1082 atoms.[1]

“Homeopathy is marketed as a ‘natural’ way to treat maladies, when in fact it has proven to be both ineffective and often harmful,” said Little. “As the FDA itself has recognized, taking tainted homeopathic products can cause illness. Patients who rely on homeopathy rather than evidence-based medicine often do so instead of seeking real medical treatment, and this can lead to serious long term harm or even death, especially in children, who have no choice in the matter.”

Little added, “And to add insult to injury, when these manufacturers dupe consumers into purchasing sugar pills and fancy labelled vials of water, they are defrauding them of their money.”

CFI has diligently worked to ensure homeopathic products are effectively labeled, and has given testimony to the FDA and Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by their invitation. CFI is seeking to work with the FTC to enforce the policy it announced last year regarding the labelling of such products, and urging retailers of such products to protect their customers by providing adequate information. CFI is currently preparing an action under DC consumer protection law to prevent further swindling by the manufacturers of homeopathic sham treatments.

Said Little, “While we’re excited by this announcement by the FDA, we’re also concerned that they follow through.”

[1] https://www.universetoday.com/36302/atoms-in-the-universe/

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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, and the Council for Secular Humanism. The Center for Inquiry strives to foster a secular society based on reason, science, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at centerforinquiry.org.