doctors call homeopathy "witchcraft." (#10-21, May 27th, 2010)
Doctors attending the annual British Medical Association (BMA) Junior Doctors Conference voted almost unanimously for a motion that, "Given the complete lack of valid scientific evidence of benefit: (i) homeopathy should no longer be funded by the National Health Service; and (ii) no UK training post should include a placement in homeopathy." During the videotaped discussion, which can be viewed on the BMA Web site, Dr. Tom Dolphin, deputy director of the BMA's junior doctor's committee, provoked raucous laughter by referring to homeopathy as witchcraft. http://www.bma.public-i.tv/site/player/pl_compact.php?a=40131&t=&m=flash&l=en_GB#the_data_area (See 4:55:30 to 4:58:43)
To become official BMA policy, the motion must be accepted at the BMA's full conference next month. [Donelley L. Homeopathy is witchcraft, say doctors. The Telegraph, May 15, 2010] http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/alternativemedicine/7728281/Homeopathy-is-witchcraft-say-doctors.html The BMA has previously expressed skepticism about homeopathy, arguing that the rationing body, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence should examine the evidence base and make a definitive ruling about the use of homeopathic remedies in the NHS.
marketers receive warning letter. (#10-48, December 2, 2010)
In June, the FDA and FTC jointly notified Homeopathy for Health, of Moses Lake, Washington that it was illegal to market unapproved products "intended to diagnose, mitigate, prevent, treat (including to treat the symptoms of) or cure the H1N1 Flu Virus in people." The warning letter covered claims made for 20 homeopathic products from six manufacturersHeel, Inc. (BHI), NaturalCare, Inc., Hyland's Homeopathic, Standard Homeopathic Company, and Boiron Borneman, Inc., and Celletech / Micro-Nutrition Pluseach of which received a copy of the letter. The products included Oscillococcinum, which for many years has been marketed to treat the symptoms of colds and flu. The FDA's Fraudulent 2009 H1N1 Influenza Products List now has 185 entries.
homeopathic manufacturer facing class-action suits. (#11-26 August
A class-action complaint has been filed against the manufacturers of Oscillococcinum, a homeopathic product widely claimed to be a flu remedy. The complaint charges that the product (a) is nothing more than a sugar pill, (b) has no impact on the flu or any symptoms that accompany it, and (c) contains no molecules of its allegedly active ingredient. http://www.casewatch.org/civil/boiron/oscillococcinum/complaint.shtml.
The suit, filed in California against Boiron, Inc., Boiron USA, Inc., and Laboratories Boiron, asks the court to halt the challenged claims and award damages for violating consumer protections laws. The "active ingredient" in Oscillococcinum is prepared by incubating small amounts of a freshly killed duck's liver and heart for 40 days. The resultant solution is then filtered, freeze-dried, rehydrated, diluted 1/100 200 times (shaking it inbetween each dilution), and impregnated into sugar granules. If a single molecule of the original substance could survive the dilution, its concentration would be 1 in 100 200 - a number vastly greater than the estimated number of molecules in the universe http://www.homeowatch.org/o.
Last year the FDA and FTC jointly warned a distributor that it was illegal to advertise Oscillococcinum "for fast relief of flu infection symptoms." http://www.casewatch.org/fdawarning/prod/2010/homeopathy_for_health.shtml.
The Newport Trial Group (http://trialnewport.com), which filed this suit, is pursuing a similar one against Boiron USA in connection with its marketing of Children's ColdCalm, a homeopathic product claimed to relieve sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, sinus pain, headaches, and sore throat. http://www.casewatch.org/civil/boiron/coldcalm/complaint.pdf. In July, a federal court judge denied a motion to dismiss that case on grounds that the FDA has primary jurisdiction and the court should defer to the government's enforcement powers. http://www.casewatch.org/civil/boiron/coldcalm/dismissal_order_ruling.pdf.
After noting that the FDA has not required that homeopathic products meet efficacy standards, the judge ruled that jurisdiction is proper because the agency has largely abdicated any role it might have had in creating such standards.
The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Center for Inquiry have urged Walmart to stop marketing Oscillicoccinum http://www.homeowatch.org/news/cfi.html.
class-action suit certified. (#11-27 August 25 , 2011)
A federal judge has certified a class, which enables the class-action suit filed by the Newport Trial Group against Boiron USA to proceed. http://www.casewatch.org/civil/boiron/coldcalm/class_certification.pdf.
The suit claims that Boiron made misleading claims that Children's ColdCalm, a homeopathic product it manufactures, would relieve sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, sinus pain, headaches, and sore throat http://www.casewatch.org/civil/boiron/coldcalm/complaint.pdf.
In July, the judge denied a motion to dismiss the case on jurisdictional grounds http://www.casewatch.org/civil/boiron/coldcalm/dismissal_order_ruling.pdf.
to get tougher on homeopathy. (#11-28 September 1st , 2011)
The Center for Inquiry and Committee for Skeptical Inquiry have filed three petitions asking the FDA to address various aspects of the homeopathic marketing.
**One petition asks the agency to initiate rulemaking that would require all over-the-counter homeopathic drugs to meet the same standards of effectiveness as non-homeopathic drugs. Although the FDA has the authority to require homeopathic drugs to undergo testing for effectiveness, it has not done so. This petition also asks the agency to require warning labels on homeopathic products unless they are shown to be effective. http://www.homeowatch.org/reg/csi/petition1.pdf
**The second petition asks the FDA to order Boiron to label the allegedly active ingredient in Oscillococcinum in English. This product, an alleged flu remedy, is said to be made by repeatedly diluting an extract of duck liver and heart. However, the label uses a Latin phrase to identify the ingredient, even though federal regulations require product to labels be written in English. http://www.homeowatch.org/reg/csi/petition2.pdf
**The third petition complains that Boiron's advertising falsely suggests that Oscillococcinum has received FDA approval.
Many homeopathic products--including Oscillococcinum--contain no molecules of the original substance(s). http://www.homeowatch.org/reg/csi/petition3.pdf
FDA regulations require the FDA to respond to citizen petitions with 180 days. However, a similar petition, filed in 1994 by Dr. Stephen Barrett and 41 other concerned persons, received no response. http://www.quackwatch.org/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/homeopetition/homeopetition.html
For additional information about Oscillococcinum, see http://www.homeowatch.org/history/oscillo.html
whether pharmacists should sell homeopathic products. (#11-44 December
31st , 2011)
Scott Gavura, who operates Science-Based Pharmacy, is a Canadian pharmacist who believes that it is unethical for pharmacists to sell, promote, or encourage the sale or use of homeopathy. [Homeopathy: To sell or not to sell? Pharmacists weigh in, Nov 30, 2011] http://sciencebasedpharmacy.wordpress.com/2011/11/30/homeopathy-to-sell-or-not-to-sell-pharmacists-weigh-in/ The posted comments from other pharmacists include:
**"Selling a preparation which is known not to work would be exactly the same . . . . as the same Pharmacist going out the back, filling a bottle with water from the tap and selling it to the customer. . . . If you don't think that there is an ethical problem, give it to the customer for free, after all it cost next to nothing to prepare."
**"I've seen Oscillococcinium on the shelf at Shoppers Drug Mart, right next to 'real' cold and flu medications. There was no indication (that an unsuspecting member of the public would spot) that there was any difference between the homeopathic sugar pills and the real medicines. If I didn't know better, I might well pick up the pseudo-medicine ('no side effects!') and waste my money. Worse, if my cold got better right away, as many colds do, I might become convinced that it worked and seek out homeopathic treatment for more serious illnesses in future. That, I think, is the real danger in pharmacists selling homeopathy: it is a gateway drug to more serious rejection of real medical treatment. It's a slippery slope form harmless cold non-remedies to quack cancer treatments."
pharmacy chain withdraws homeopathic claims from shelves. (#11-44 December
31st , 2011)
Boots, a major UK pharmacy chain, has stopped displaying information about the purposes of the homeopathic products they sell. The action was taken after the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) upheld a complaint that Boots's point-of-sale advertising contained prohibited information. This advertising, found in many stores, consisted of a book of flip cards that listed indications, symptoms, and homeopathic products. The MHRA ruled that the products were not licensed with indications because the MHRA's Simplified Rules Scheme for homeopathic products prohibits stating the purposes for which they can be used. [Boots told to stop making medical claims for pills with no active ingredient. The Nightingale Collaboration Web Site, December 2011] http://www.nightingale-collaboration.org/news/107-boots-told-to-stop-making-medical-claims-for-pills-with-no-active-ingredient.html The MHRA's proposed policy document, Homeopathic medicines: Guidance for advertising, is posted at http://www.homeowatch.org/reg/mhra.pdf.
universities stop "alternative medicine" degree programs. (#12-05 February
2nd , 2012)
Starting this year, publicly-funded British universities will no longer offer degree programs in Chinese medicine, acupuncture, homeopathy, naturopathy, or reflexology. A few years ago, there were 45 such programs. Last year the British government called for a halt to public funding of homeopathic treatment. [UK universities drop alternative medicine degree programs. Deutsche Welle, Jan 18, 2012] http://www.dw-world.de/dw/article/0,,15673133,00.html.
reports on homeopathy-related deaths. (#12-18 May 24th , 2012)
Ian Freckelton, a prominent Australian barrister who edits the Journal of Law and Medicine, has written a scholarly account of the history, risks, and current legal status of homeopathy in several countries. [Freckelton I. Death by homeopathy: Issues for Civil, criminal and coronial law and for health service policy. Journal of Law and Medicine 19:454-478, 2012] http://boenrep.com/dl/LAW.pdf The article includes details about several people who died because they relied on homeopathic treatment rather than responsible treatment. One such case was that of Penelope Dingle, an Australian woman who died in 2005 as a result of the complications of metastatic bowel cancer. According to the coroner's report, Mrs. Dingle experienced blood in her stools in 2001, at which time her prognosis with standard treatment would have been good. But she relied on treatment by a homeopath and two renegade physicians and did not seek appropriate medical treatment until she was near death. http://www.homeowatch.org/news/dingle_finding.pdf.
down on homeopathy advertising. (#12-24 July 14th , 2012)
The British Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has announced that it has received so many complaints about homeopathic advertising that it does not need to receive more. The ASA usually deals with one advertiser at a time. Now, however, they are warning advertisers to stop making efficacy claims without "robust evidence" to back them up and are monitoring Web sites to see whether the necessary changes have been made. [Complaints about homeopathy websites. ASA Web site, accessed July 1, 2012] http://www.asa.org.uk/Resource-Centre/Hot-Topics/Homeopathy-complaints.aspx
Meanwhile, the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP)- the industry group that writes the British Code of Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing to which advertisers must adhere-has issued a Guidance for Advertising of Homeopathic Services, which warns against making unsubstantiated claims and notes that all homeopathic products must be registered before marketing. http://www.homeowatch.org/reg/cap_guidance.pdf
paid to smear British quackery critic. (#12-25 July 19th , 2012)
Press reports indicate that German manufacturers of homeopathic preparations have been paying a journalist about £40,000 annually to systematically smear people who criticize homeopathy. [Lewis A. German homeopathy companies pay journalist who smears UK academic. The Quackometer Blog, July 16, 2012] http://www.quackometer.net/blog/2012/07/german-homeopathy-companies-pay-journalist-who-smears-uk-academic.html.
The main target has been Edzard Ernst, M.D., Ph.D., the leading provider of systematic reviews of the scientific literature related to "Complementary and Alternative" methods. Ernst has responded at http://www.thetwentyfirstfloor.com/?p=4424.
details why homeopathy is impossible. (#12-32 September 20th, 2012)
David Grimes, an Irish physicist, has provided a detailed critique of homeopathy-related claims related to ultradilution, chemical limits, "water memory," and electromagnetic signals. He notes:
**Many homeopathic products are so dilute that they are unlikely contain a single molecule of "active ingredient."
**To achieve the claimed dilution of many common products, a single molecule of active ingredient would require a container greater than our solar system.
**Some products are claimed to contain a concentration of active ingredient that could not be achieved with a single molecule in a container the size of the universe. This is obviously impossible.
**Claims that water can "remember" formerly present substances are false because studies have shown that if any such capability exists, it does not last more than a fraction of a nanosecond.
**Claims that in extreme dilutions bacterial DNA produces electromagnetic signals are based on improperly designed research.
**The claim that greater dilution produces greater therapeutic effect is the opposite of what is usually found in nature.
The author concluded: "The proposed mechanisms of homeopathy are shown to be implausible when analyzed from a physical and chemical perspective, and thus it is of no surprise that the biological effects of homeopathy cannot be measured in large-scale clinical trials." [Grimes D. Proposed mechanisms for homeopathy are physically impossible. FACT 17:149-154, 2012] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.2042-7166.2012.01162.x/abstract.
Government agency blasts homeopathy (#15-11 - March 15, 2015)
The Australian Government's National Health and Research Council has produced a 40-page report which concludes, essentially, that homeopathic treatment is worthless. [NHMRC Information Paper: Evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating health conditions. National Health and Medical Research Council. 2015. Canberra: National Health and Medical Research Council, March 2015] After surveying the scientific literature, the authors said:
- Based on all the evidence considered, there were no health conditions for which there was reliable evidence that homeopathy was effective.
- No good-quality, well-designed studies with enough participants for a meaningful result reported either that homeopathy caused greater health improvements than placebo, or
caused health improvements equal to those of another treatment.
- Homeopathy should not be used to treat conditions that are chronic, serious, or could become serious.
- People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness.
- People who are considering whether to use homeopathy should first get advice from a registered health practitioner. Those who use homeopathy should tell their health practitioner and should keep taking any prescribed treatments.
GPs blast homeopathy (#15-31
- August 9, 2015)
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has issued a position statement which concludes:
The RACGP supports the use of evidence-based medicine, in which current research information is used as the basis for clinical decision-making. In light of strong evidence to confirm that homeopathy has no effect beyond that of placebo as a treatment for various clinical conditions . . .
1. Medical practitioners should not practice homeopathy, refer patients to homeopathic practitioners, or recommend homeopathic products to their patients.
2. Pharmacists should not sell, recommend, or support the use of homeopathic products.
3. Homeopathic alternatives should not be used in place of conventional immunization.
4. Private health insurers should not supply rebates for or otherwise support homeopathic services or product.
The statement was a response to the National Health and Medical Research Council's recently released review which concluded that there are no health conditions for which there is reliable evidence that homeopathy is effective as a treatment.
declining in UK (#16-02
- January 10, 2016)
The Nightingale Collaboration has described how the use of homeopathic products and services has been steadily declining in the United Kingdom. Its recent report notes:
- Two of the five homeopathic hospitals and the homeopathic pharmacy at a third hospital have closed.
- The number of prescriptions for homeopathy products has fallen steadily from about 170,000 in 1996 to about 10,000 in 2014.
- The British Advertising Authority has clamped down on advertising claims and the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has attacked unlicensed product distribution.
The Collaboration has expressed hope that the MHRA will stop the marketing of products that have names similar to commonly recognized diseases or medicines. [On a downward spiral. Nightingale Collaboration Web site, Oct 22, 2015]
call for global rejection of homeopathy (#16-07 - February 21, 2016)
Last month, eight prominent scientists met in Freiburg, Germany to discuss how to inform the public responsibly and counter the rampant misinformation about homeopathy to which Germans and others are regularly exposed. They founded the Homeopathy Information Network and issued the Freiburg Declaration on Homeopathy, which called homeopathy "a stubbornly persistent belief system" and concluded:
Our criticism is not aimed at needy patients or practicing homeopathic clinicians; it is aimed at the school of homeopathy and the healthcare institutions which could have long recognized the nonsensical nature of homeopathy, but have chosen not to interfere. We ask the players within our science-based healthcare system to finally reject homeopathy and other pseudoscientific methods and to return to what should be self-evident: scientifically validated, fair and generally reproducible rules promoting top-quality medicine for the benefit of the patient.
blasted (#16-16 - May
Jan Willem Nienhuys has posted a detailed report on the Ph.D. dissertation on homeopathy defended in 1943 by David Karel de Jongh, M.D., a Dutch physician. De Jongh's report was based on meticulous examination of hundreds of articles and books and his experiences while working in a homeopathic hospital. His key points included:
- Homeopathy's founder, Samuel Hahnemann, M.D., never proved his method by trying it out systematically. His research consisted of gathering anecdotes from medical literature, which he interpreted in a very biased way.
- Since Hahnemann's time, homeopaths have attached great value to shaking of the remedies after each dilution step. However, physics tells us that it is nonsensical: the molecules in a fluid hit each other violently many million times per second, and only very unstable materials like nitroglycerin feel any effect of shaking.
- The concept of "constitutional homeopathy" enables homeopaths to give different remedies to different people suffering from the same disease, thus creating the illusion of individualized treatments.
product sales decline further (#16-32 - August 21, 2016)
The number of National Health Service prescriptions filled in England's community pharmacies has fallen steadily and is 95% lower than its peak nearly 20 years ago. In 2015, there were just 8,894 prescriptions, down from 10,238 in 2014. The total cost of these prescriptions has dropped to £94,313, the first time it has been below £100,000. [Homeopathy on the NHS: at death's door. The Nightingale Collaboration, April 26, 2016] In recent years, NHS review bodies have issued very unfavorable reports and the British Advertising Authority has banned efficacy claims in advertising. Homeopathy is pseudoscience based on notions that (a) a substance that produces symptoms in a healthy person can cure ill people with similar symptoms and (b) that infinitesimal doses can be highly potent. [Barrett S. Homeopathy: The ultimate fake. Quackwatch, Aug 22, 016]
call for homeopathy ban
- September 11, 2016)
Danny Chambers, a veterinarian who teaches at the University of Edinburgh, has initiated an open letter asking the Royal College of Veterinarians to ban the treatment of animals with homeopathy. A portion of the letter states:
Few things more heartbreaking than having to pick up the pieces after an animal has received inadequate care. Unfortunately, too many times in my career I've been presented with an animal whose perfectly treatable condition has been left to deteriorate, because their owners and vets were convinced that homeopathic remedies would do the trick. At best, it leads to unnecessary suffering and a reduced likelihood of a full recovery. At worst, as with the case of a horse I treated for severe laminitis, there is no option left but euthanasia.
. . . There is no real way for an animal's owner to judge whether the advice they receive from a qualified vet is based on sound research or, in the case of homeopathy, personal belief that flies in the face of evidence. The public rightly place their trust in veterinary surgeons, reasoning that our medical knowledge is the result of years of study and training at formally accredited institutions, and based on sound research.
For the veterinary profession to retain the trust of the general public, we have to ensure that the treatments that we offer are, to the best of our ability, based in evidence. As the regulatory body for veterinary surgeons in the UK, it is the duty of the RCVS to monitor the ethical and clinical standards of our profession-clearly, the promotion of demonstrably ineffective treatments is not compatible with these standards.
More than 1,000 veterinarians have signed onto the letter. [Chambers D. Why we are calling for a ban on vets offering homeopathic remedies. The Guardian, July 8, 2016]
against using homeopathic teething products (#16-36 - September 25, 2016)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers that homeopathic teething tablets and gels may pose a risk to infants and children. [FDA warns against the use of homeopathic teething tablets and gels. FDA news release, Sept 30, 2016] The FDA recommends that consumers stop using these products and dispose of any in their possession. Homeopathic teething tablets and gels, distributed by CVS, Hyland's, and possibly others, and sold in retail stores and online. In a news release, the agency stated:
" The agency is not aware of any proven health benefit of products that are labeled to relieve teething symptoms in children.
" Consumers should seek medical care immediately if their child experiences seizures, difficulty breathing, lethargy, excessive sleepiness, muscle weakness, skin flushing, constipation, difficulty urinating, or agitation after using homeopathic teething tablets or gels.
" The FDA is analyzing adverse events reported to the agency regarding homeopathic teething tablets and gels since 2010 when it issued a safety alert and recall about homeopathic teething tablets. The agency is also testing product samples.
The FDA is evaluating its regulatory framework for homeopathy. Dr. Stephen Barrett has recommended that (a) no health claims be permitted for homeopathic products unless they are approved through the FDA's standard drug approval process and (b) that the FDA should advise consumers not to buy homeopathic products. The current action indicates that such a warning is legally feasible.
homeopathic advertising guidelines (#16-44 - November 27, 2016)
The Federal Trade Commission has announced a new policy toward homeopathic product advertising. The agency also released its staff report on its 2015 workshop. Homeopathy, which dates back to the 1700s, is based on the medically disputed notion that disease symptoms can be treated by repeatedly diluted doses of substances that supposedly produce similar symptoms when provided in larger doses to healthy people. Many homeopathic products are diluted to such an extent that they no longer contain even a single molecule of the initial substance. The policy statement notes:
- The FTC will hold efficacy and safety claims for OTC homeopathic drugs to the same standard as other products making similar claims. Companies must have competent and reliable scientific evidence for health-related claims, including claims that a product can treat specific conditions. The statement also describes the level of scientific evidence that the Commission requires for such claims.
- For the vast majority of OTC homeopathic drugs, the case for efficacy is based solely on traditional homeopathic theories and there are no valid studies using current scientific methods showing the product's efficacy. Thus health-related claims for these products are likely to be inherently misleading.
- Unsubstantiated claims may be permitted if the advertising or labeling effectively communicates that: (a) there is no scientific evidence that the product works; and (b) the claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts.
- Any such disclosures (a) should stand out and be in close proximity to the product's efficacy message, (b) might need to be incorporated into that message, and (c) should not be undercut by additional positive statements or consumer endorsements. If the "net impression" of an ad conveys more substantiation than a marketer has, it will violate the FTC Act.
The marketplace would be more efficient if product labels and ads would list only ingredients and include no efficacy claims, as recommended by Dr. Stephen Barrett. [Barrett S. Comments and proposed testimony for the FTC workshop on advertising for over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic products. July 29, 2015] But the FTC appears willing to permit efficacy claims accompanied by "sufficient" negative disclosures.
scientists call homeopathy "dangerous pseudoscience" (#17-32 - August 20, 2017)
The Russian Academy of Sciences has declared that homeopathy "has no scientific basis" and endangers people who believe it is effective. A memorandum issued by the Academy's Commission against Pseudoscience and Falsification of Scientific Research concluded that attempts to verify the success of homeopathic treatments had failed for over 200 years. Its report urged the media to present homeopathy as a pseudoscience on a par with magic, healing, and psychic practices. [Dearden L. Russian Academy of Sciences says homeopathy is dangerous 'pseudoscience' that does not work. The Independent, Feb 7, 2017].
warning letters indexed (#17-33 - August 27, 2017)
Homeowatch has posted an index of warning letters sent by the FDA to 50 companies that marketed homeopathic products with illegal claims during the past 30 years. The list is not complete because some letters issued years ago no longer appear on the FDA Web site.
Union's science advisors denounce homeopathy (#17-37 - September 24, 2017)
The European Academies' Science Advisory Council (EASAC), has published a statement to reinforce criticism of the health and scientific claims made for homeopathic products and call upon policy-makers to improve consumers' right to correct information. The statement notes that (a) the mechanisms of action claimed for homeopathy are implausible and inconsistent with established scientific concepts, (b) there are no known diseases for which robust evidence exists that homeopathy is effective beyond a placebo effect, and (c) promotion of homeopathy can lead to harmful delay in getting effective medical care and can undermine public confidence in the nature and value of scientific evidence. The Council recommends:
- There should be consistent regulatory requirements to demonstrate efficacy, safety, and quality of all products for human and veterinary medicine, to be based on verifiable and objective evidence, commensurate with the nature of the claims being made.
- Without such evidence, a product should be neither approvable nor registrable by national regulatory agencies for use as a medicinal product.
- Evidence-based public health systems should not reimburse homeopathic products and practices unless they are demonstrated to be efficacious and safe by rigorous testing.
- The labeling of homeopathic products should be similar to that of other health products; that is, there should be an accurate, clear and simple description of the ingredients and their amounts in the formulation.
- Advertising and marketing of homeopathic products and services must conform to established standards of accuracy and clarity. Promotional claims for efficacy, safety and quality should not be made without demonstrable evidence.
The EASAC reflects the views of 29 European national science academies and academic bodies. [Homeopathic products and practices: assessing the evidence and ensuring consistency in regulating medical claims in the EU. EASAC, Sept 2017]
contrasts veterinary drugs and homeopathic "alternatives"
- November 19, 2017)
The British Veterinary Association's journal has published two articles that place homeopathy in historical and scientific perspective. Although the articles concern veterinary practices, their conclusions are equally relevant to human drugs. The first article notes that, "For many drugs the mechanism of action is proven, and for most drugs without proven mechanisms of action, scientifically plausible mechanisms exist." [Lees P and others. Comparison of veterinary drugs and veterinary homeopathy: Part 1. Veterinary Record, Aug 12, 2017] In contrast, the second article notes that "Homeopathy . . . is top down and faith-based; governed by arbitrary laws, invented by the founder, Hahnemann, which are immutable. As such, homeopathy is not just unscientific, it is a genuinely mystical belief system." [Lees P and others. Comparison of veterinary drugs and veterinary homeopathy: Part 2. Veterinary Record, Aug 19/26, 2017]
new homeopathic product regulations (#17-47 - December 24, 2017)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has proposed what it calls "risk-based guidelines" that give enforcement priority to homeopathic products with the greatest potential risk to patients. [FDA proposes new, risk-based enforcement priorities to protect consumers from potentially harmful, unproven homeopathic drugs. FDA news release, Dec 18, 2017] The FDA intends to focus on:
- products with reported safety concerns
- products that contain or claim to contain ingredients associated with potentially significant safety concerns
- products for routes of administration other than oral and topical
- products intended for the prevention or treatment of serious and/or life-threatening diseases and conditions
- products for vulnerable populations
- products that do not meet legally required standards of quality, strength, or purity.
Although homeopathic products have no proven effectiveness and their theoretical basis is senseless, a complete ban is not politically feasible. [Barrett S. Homeopathy: The ultimate fake. Quackwatch, Aug 25, 2016] However, the FDA can easily limit their marketing to single-ingredient products that strictly comply with the Homeopathic Pharmacopeia. No health claims should be permitted for homeopathic products unless they are approved through the FDA's standard drug approval process. The only statements that should be permitted in labeling or advertising are the chemical name, the dilution, and that fact that the product is homeopathic. Products consistent with the Pharmacopeia could still be marketed, so consumers who want homeopathic products could still obtain them. But unapproved health claims-including implied claims in product names-should be banned. If you agree with this suggestion, please read Dr. Barrett's full explanation and post a comment in your own words to the FDA comments page.
commissioning in England ended (#18-32 - August 12, 2018)
Homeopathic pills or consultations can no longer be funded with money from England's National Health Service (NHS). The Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) has become the last of England's CCGs to end the commissioning of homeopathic remedies. This action marks the culmination of a four-year campaign by the Good Thinking Society to persuade NHS England to stop wasting money on homeopathy. [Marsh. NHS Bristol ends funding for homeopathy, ending all homeopathy commissioning in England. Good Thinking site. Aug. 7, 2018]
group calls for end to France's homeopathy reimbursements (#19-07 February 17, 2019)
Le Collège National des Généralistes Enseignants (CNGE), which represents generalist physicians in France, has called for an end to reimbursements (currently at 30%) by France's national health insurance system for homeopathic medicine. The organization said: "There is no way to justify the reimbursement of these 'medicines'. There is not even any justification for teaching this kind of practice at university." [French GPs call for stop to homeopathy reimbursement. Connexion. Jan 11, 2019]
responses found for homeopathic vaccines (#19-13 - March 31, 2019)
A well-controlled study in a sample of 150 university students found:
Homeopathic "nosodes" promoted for prevention of diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, mumps, and measles did not evoke antibody responses.
Their antibody responses were similar to placebo.
Standard vaccines for the same diseases provided a robust antibody response in most of those vaccinated.
[Loeb M. et al. A randomized, blinded, placebo-controlled trial comparing antibody responses to homeopathic and conventional vaccines in university students. Vaccine. 36(48):7423-7429, 2018] Nosodes are homeopathic products made from pathological organs or tissues; causative agents such as bacteria, fungi, ova, parasites, virus particles and yeast; disease products; or excretions. Some homeopaths falsely claim that nosodes are effective as vaccines. Health Canada was recently criticized for continuing to license homeopathic nosodes and merely warning the public that they are not a substitute for vaccines. [Ireland N. Stronger action urged against homeopathic products touted as alternatives to vaccines. CBC News. Mar 18, 2019]
sued for misrepresenting its homeopathic products (#19-21 - May
The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is alleging in a lawsuit filed in the District of Columbia that Walmart is committing wide-scale consumer fraud and endangering the health of its retail consumers through its marketing of homeopathic products. CFI asserts the company is deceiving its customers by making no meaningful distinction between real medicine and useless homeopathic products on its shelves and in its online store. [Walmart sued for fraud: Nation's largest retailer deceives and endangers consumers with homeopathic fake medicine. CFI press release. May 20, 2019]
pharmacies provide disclaimers about homeopathic products (#19-21 - May 26, 2019)
The Quebec Association of Pharmacy Chains has distributed signs for pharmacists to place next to homeopathic products to warn customers that the effectiveness of homeopathic products is generally not supported by scientific evidence. The signs also invite consumers to consult the pharmacist for details. The association also asked Health Canada to revise the authorization of homeopathic products. [Jarry J. Quebec pharmacies show signs of progress on homeopathy. McGill Office for Science and Society. May 17, 2019]
will stop paying for homeopathy
- July 14, 2019)
The French Government has announced that it will stop reimbursing patients for homeopathy treatment beginning in 2021. In June, France's National Authority for Health (HAS) concluded that it had "not scientifically demonstrated sufficient effectiveness to justify a reimbursement." [Agence France-Presse in Paris. France to stop reimbursing patients for homeopathy. The Guardian. Jul 10, 2019] The HAS conclusion was preceded by a joint report from France's Academy of Medicine and Academy of Pharmacy issued in March along with a joint statement to the press that declared: "No homeopathic preparation should be reimbursed by Assurance Maladie [France's health insurance] until the demonstration of sufficient medical benefit has been provided. No university degree in homeopathy should be issued by medical or pharmaceutical faculties." Reacting to Frances's decision, Steven Novella, M.D. blogged:
Homeopathy remains a giant scam on the public with essentially zero plausibility and copious evidence for lack of efficacy. Governments around the world are moving in the right direction, but not nearly enough. We need to keep the pressure on, and keep educating the public about what homeopathy actually is, i.e. nothing. [Novella, S. France to end reimbursement for homeopathy. Science-Based Medicine. July 10, 2019]
criticism of homeopathy posted
- August 11, 2019)
Homeowatch has posted the full text of a 40-page booklet, "Modern Homeopathy: Its Absurdities and Inconsistencies", which was published in 1894 and offered to doctors for distribution to patients. Even though medical science was in its infancy, the booklet's author was able to explain why homeopathy's basic premises were nonsensical and its medicines were inert. He also described how a homeopathic hospital discharged and readmitted its sickest patients so frequently that its death rates (per 100 admissions) could be misleadingly reported as lower than those of other hospitals.
critique of 1886 homeopathic product catalog republished (#19-34 - August 25, 2019)
Homeowatch has uploaded a catalog of "high-dilution" homeopathic products that was published in 1886 and appropriately ridiculed in an essay in 1890 in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Even though medical science was in its infancy, enough was known to be certain that such productsmade by repeatedly diluting an original substance to a point where no molecules of the original substance remainedcould not work. The catalog included "high-dilution" products made from moonlight; blue, red, and yellow rays of the light spectrum; black or East India cockroach; chimney soot; mosquito; rabies virus; and even pus from a rectal abscess. One product, made from the sap of the Caguil tree, was offered as a treatment for "uncontrollable desire for coitus." [Curiosities of homeopathic pharmacy. Homeowatch, Aug 18, 2019].
reporting bias found for homeopathic studies (#22-15 - April 10, 2022)
Because studies with positive outcomes are more likely to be reported than studies with negative outcomes, some methods may appear to be more effective than they really are a situation called reporting bias. To counter this problem, the World Medical Associations Declaration of Helsinki calls for researchers to register all clinical trials and report their outcomes, and the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors (ICMJE) has agreed to publish results only for trials that are registered beforehand in a public registry. A recent analysis of homeopathic clinical trials found:
38% of homeopathy trials remain unpublished while 53% are unregistered
25% of registered trials altered or changed the primary outcome measure in the publication
unregistered homeopathy trials tended to have larger treatment effects than registered trials
While noting that non-reporting of clinical trial results is a problem not limited to homeopathy, the researchers wrote their findings suggest a concerning lack of scientific and ethical standards in the field of homeopathy. It concluded:
Registration of published trials was infrequent, many registered trials were not published and primary outcomes were often altered or changed. This likely affects the validity of the body of evidence of homeopathic literature and may substantially overestimate the true treatment effect of homeopathic remedies. [Gartlehner G and others. Assessing the magnitude of reporting bias in trials of homeopathy: A cross-sectional study and meta-analysis. BMJ Evidence-Based Medicine, March 15, 2022]
Edzard Ernst, M.D., Ph.D., described the studys outcome more bluntly in a recent article titled The body of evidence on homeopathy is rotten to the core. Another commentator pointed out that homeopathy is based on prescientific concepts more akin to sympathetic magic than it does to any science and arguing from basic science alone, homeopathy cant work. [Orac. Why are so many clinical trials of homeopathy positive? Respectful Insolence, March 23, 2022]
major homeopathic manufacturer (#22-16 - April 16, 2022)
The Center for Inquiry has filed a lawsuit against Boiron, Inc., one of the largest manufacturers of homeopathic products in the world, for deceiving vulnerable consumers with useless products dressed up to look like real medicine. The lawsuit, brought under the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act, alleges that Boiron: (a) sold a plethora of materially identical products, each made up of sugar pills and powders, and (b) falsely promised consumers that each item would treat a particular illness, injury, or health condition despite containing no detectable active medicinal ingredient. According to recent data from the homeopathic product industry, 85% of consumers who purchased homeopathic products did not realize they were homeopathic, and 91% of purchasers did not even know what the term homeopathic meant. [Homeopathy manufacturer Boiron sued for deceiving consumers with junk meds. Center for Inquiry press release, April 14, 2022]
confirmed as pseudoscience (#22-36 - September 18, 2022 )
A philosopher and a prominent alternative medicine clinical researcher have argued homeopathy is a pseudoscience because its proponents: (a) claim scientific standing for it, and (b) defend homeopathy in ways that show carelessness about or indifference to truth. [Mukerji N. Ernst E. Why homeopathy is pseudoscience. Synthese, 200:394, 2022] Their important paper:
- describes homeopathy
- notes the implausibility of homeopathic preparations as remedies
- describes bizarre approaches homeopaths have used to make homeopathy seem plausible
- explains why the evidence touted by homeopaths is insufficient
- discusses the nature of pseudoscience
- distinguishes pseudoscience from science, parascience, anti-science, bad science, and science fraud
- discusses flawed arguments that homeopathy is pseudoscientific
- provides examples of homeopaths claiming explicitly and implicitly homeopathy is a science
- discusses how homeopaths reject essential parts of established scientific methodology
- describes how homeopaths respond to criticism by shifting the burden of proof, mischaracterizing evidence, and cherry-picking evidence
- criticizes homeopathic researchers who refuse to submit therapeutic claims to rigorous, fair testing
- describes the problem of homeopaths frequently failing to preregister and publish clinical trials.
warned to stop promoting homeopathy for children (#22-36 - September
18, 2022 )
The Center for Inquiry (CFI) has sent a letter to Amazon calling for the company to immediately cease its distribution of unapproved homeopathic drugs promoted as medicines for ill and injured babies, infants, and children. A search for homeopathic in Amazons Health Care Products department, yielded more than 10,000 product results, each claiming to treat a host of health issues, ranging from nerve pain and fever to surgical wounds and fibroids and ovarian cysts. Many items, such as Boiron RhinAllergy Kids and Hylands 4Kids Pain Relief, are explicitly sold as medicine for children.
[Center for Inquiry warns Amazon: Stop promoting homeopathic drugs as treatments for sick babies and children. Center for Inquiry news release, Sept 7, 2022]