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]

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(Image: Homeopathic332, Wikidudeman, public domain)