For Immediate Release: August 20, 2015
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
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Consumers spend $3 billion a year on homeopathic drugs, yet most remain unaware that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not evaluated these products for safety and effectiveness. In comments filed with the FDA this week, the Center for Inquiry (CFI) urged the FDA to subject homeopathic drugs to the same testing requirements as conventional drugs. Failing that, CFI urged the FDA to at least require homeopathic products to be clearly labeled as untested and unproven.
Homeopathy is a centuries-old pseudoscience, developed before the discovery of disease-causing pathogens, based on the false beliefs that “like cures like” and that the more an ingredient is diluted the more potent it is, due to water’s “memory” of the diluted ingredient. As CFI states in its comments, “By its own definition, homeopathy cannot work.” Yet, for historical reasons relating to the passage of the original Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in 1938 (which had a homeopathic practitioner as a key sponsor), homeopathic products can be marketed even though they are not subject to the rigorous testing for safety and effectiveness that conventional drugs must undergo.
In late March, the FDA announced it was reconsidering its position on homeopathic drugs. The Center for Inquiry, an organization that advocates for science and critical thinking, had previously petitioned the FDA to address the inadequate regulation of homeopathic products, and was invited by the FDA to provide testimony at public hearings on the subject in April.
“When people get sick or hurt, they are confronted with countless products that claim to be able to make them better,” said Ronald A. Lindsay, president and CEO of CFI. “They cannot be blamed for not distinguishing between effective remedies and pseudoscience from the 1700s if both products share the same store shelves, and there is no labeling on homeopathic drugs to indicate they are given a pass by the FDA. Clear labeling on homeopathic products, that catches consumers’ attention and informs them that the FDA does not evaluate these products for safety or effectiveness, is an easy way to ensure that people looking to treat their illnesses are not fooled into thinking that homeopathic drugs are real medicine. Study after study demonstrates that at most they have a placebo effect.”
“We believe that true freedom of choice is impossible unless one is fully informed about the choices,” writes CFI in its comments. “The public needs the guidance of an expert agency when it comes to buying drugs as they are not in a position to evaluate their effectiveness themselves, without incurring unacceptable risks.”
One such risk highlighted by CFI is the risk of those suffering from real medical conditions who might rely on homeopathic products to the exclusion of proven scientific remedies, which can result in people becoming sicker or even dying for lack of real, scientifically proven treatments.
The full comments submitted to the FDA can be read at bit.ly/CFI_Homeopathy_FDA.