FDA & FTC mull homeopathy's future

Both the UK and Australian governments have issued reports describing homeopathy as bunk, and now the US Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission are holding hearings on the regulation of high-priced sugar-pills.

In the USA, homeopathy benefits from a unique regulatory regime that allows its "remedies" to be marketed as having health benefits without the normal testing regimes other alleged medicines must face before they are allowed to make similar claims.

The FDA's hearings have been dominated by homeopathy's advocates, but their opponents from the reality-based medicine camp have had an impressive outing.

The two strongest witnesses at the hearing for reality-based medicine, as Mark Crislip would call it, were Michael DeDora of the Center for Inquiry, and Adriane Fugh-Berman, Associate Professor in the Department of Pharmacology and Physiology and the Department of Family Medicine at Georgetown University Medical Center.

Fugh-Berman is concerned about stocking homeopathic products on the shelves right next to other OTC drugs because, in her view, most consumers and medical professionals have no idea what homeopathic remedies are, don’t know they aren’t reviewed for safety and efficacy, and likely think they are dietary supplements or conventional OTC drugs. Nor does their dilution necessarily make them harmless, a point that was confirmed by Edward Krenzelok of the Rocky Mountain Poison and Drug Center in his remarks. For example, according to Fugh-Berman, Cold-EEZE contains 13.3 milligrams of zinc per lozenge. At recommended six lozenges a day, that’s about 80 milligrams of zinc a day, or ten times the RDA for adult females, eight times the RDA for males. As well, she said, products can contain snake venom, heavy metals, controlled substances, glandular extracts and other potentially dangerous ingredients.

Fugh-Bergman, who pointed out that the evidence for homeopathy is “between scant and nil,” wants to see the labels accurately describe the ingredients and their amounts in the same language used for other drugs and dietary supplements rather than the obscure vocabulary of homeopathy. She noted that, at some level of dilution, this would require expression of amounts in terms like “less than .01 nanograms.”

Homeopathic industry and its acolytes make poor showing before FDA [Jann Bellamy/Science Based Medicine]

(via /.)

(Image: Homeopathic332, Wikidudeman, public domain)

Notable Replies

  1. I'm not sure of AUS and UK.

    But in the US...the term Homeopathic at a drug store is NOT harmless inert things.

    Often it has very active ingredients. Some helpful and some harmful.

    For example "Zicam" a cold medicine that's labeled in a US as "Homeopathic" has very active levels of ZINC. So much that their was a class action lawsuit because it destroyed people's sense of smell and taste. Sometimes permanently.

    Other things that are classified as homeopathy are things like Tea tree oil which is a very active antibiotic and antifungal.
    In the us the term has far more meaning legally at the drug store than harmless diluted herb water.

    I found this out the hard way with Ziacam. I was taking it and noticed things my sense of taste and smell was disapearing. I stopped it and found out it was pretty much vicious. "Homeopathic" in the US does not mean harmless. (this was before the class action suit)

    It also doesn't mean worthless..as things like slippery elm cough drops and tea tree oil for dandruff are labeled homeopathy in the US.

  2. Who's talking about banning them? I thought the plan was to make sure homoeopathic remedies were subject to the same labelling and justification of claims as other medicines?

  3. Homoeopathy; the less support it has, the stronger it gets.

  4. Unfortunately, "homeopathic" in the USA is defined by statute to be anything in the homeopathic formulary (I forget who maintains it, but in effect they have unregulated statutory powers.) Needless to say, there's a lot of pressure to get stuff listed because it's an instant end run on all sorts of health and safety regulations.

    And it doesn't matter what the concentrattions are, either -- Zicam was 10% zinc, but that just means it's "homeopathic 1X."

  5. No, no, no. A mild overdose would be taking one tenth of a pill, twice a year.

    Not buying them actually carries the HIGHEST possible risk of a homeopathic overdose.

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