Wegmans Hawking Fake Medicine During Pandemic: CFI Calls Out Retailer for Crassly Irresponsible Profiteering

For Immediate Release: March 16, 2020
Contact: Paul Fidalgo, Communications Director
press@centerforinquiry.org - (207) 358-9785

Wegmans supermarkets are using the confusion and fear surrounding the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to increase its sales of useless homeopathic products, an act of cynicism that the Center for Inquiry is calling out as appalling and irresponsible.

Homeopathy is an eighteenth-century pseudoscience in which dangerous substances are diluted to the point that no trace of the active ingredient remains. There is absolutely no question in the world of reality-based medicine that homeopathic treatments have no effect whatsoever beyond that of a placebo.

“Scientists and the government agree. Homeopathy is bunk,” wrote Nick Little, Vice President and General Counsel for the Center for Inquiry (CFI), in a letter to Wegmans president and CEO Colleen Wegman. “I was therefore appalled to enter your Charlottesville store on Friday, March 13, and see that not only have you continued to sell homeopathic products, but, unbelievably, you ran a promotion on these products, with many being listed at lower prices than normal. As a result, the shelves were stripped bare of homeopathic products.”

“As you are well aware, we are currently in the midst of a global viral pandemic,” the letter continues. “To promote and encourage the use of what can only be described as snake oil in this situation is one of the most irresponsible things I can imagine. People rely on your pharmacy for their health needs. People will, as a result of your profit seeking actions, rely on homeopathic products to treat and prevent COVID-19, and go about their regular activities with a false sense of security that they are protected, and that they cannot pass this virus on to their family, friends and colleagues.”

The Center for Inquiry is currently engaged in consumer protection lawsuits against Walmart and CVS for their deceptive sale and marketing of homeopathic fake medicine, holding the mega-retailers to account for betraying the trust of tens of millions of customers. Walmart recently moved to quash CFI’s suit by attempting to bias the judge against the nonreligious Americans that comprise much of CFI’s constituency. 

In his letter to Wegmans, Little points out that the company is violating not only the trust of its customers, but its own guiding principles. “You state in your corporate values that Wegmans ‘make[s] a difference in every community [it] serve[s],’” notes Little. “Through this crassly irresponsible attempt to increase your stores’ profits in a time of heath crisis and panic, the difference you will make may well be fatal to some of your customers.”

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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.