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Homeopathy ‘treatments’ may have labels to warn they do not work

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Homeopathic ‘medicines’, including those used by some people with MS, could soon bear labels saying that they may not work – by order of the US government.

Homeopathic remedies are regulated as drugs under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FDCA). Under current Agency policy, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not evaluate the remedies for safety or effectiveness but is now is requiring producers to provide proof of their effectiveness.

And, if the producers don’t provide such proof, their homeopathic medicines will need to carry warnings saying there is “no scientific evidence that the product works”.

According to a report by Andrew Buncombe, in the British newspaper The Independent, a notice issued by the Federal Trade Commission explained: “Homeopathy, which dates back to the late-eighteenth century, is based on the view that disease symptoms can be treated by minute doses of substances that produce similar symptoms when provided in larger doses to healthy people.”

The report continues:

Many homeopathic products are diluted to such an extent that they no longer contain detectable levels of the initial substance. In general, homeopathic product claims are not based on modern scientific methods and are not accepted by modern medical experts, but homeopathy nevertheless has many adherents.

homeopathicSlate said there was near-unanimous mainstream scientific consensus that homeopathy’s purported mechanism of action – using ultra-highly diluted substances to allow “like to cure like” – runs counter to basic principles of chemistry, biology, and physics.

Health policy expert Timothy Caulfield recently said: “To believe homeopathy works … is to believe in magic.”

Yet, reports suggest the so-called treatments are unlikely to disappear from the shelves of pharmacists’ shops.

The FTC said that a homeopathic drug claim that is not substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence “might not be deceptive if the advertisement or label where it appears effectively communicates that:

  • there is no scientific evidence that the product works; and
  • the product’s claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts.

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ian profile50shadesofsun.com is the personal website of Ian Franks, who is Managing Editor (columns division) of BioNews Services. BioNews is owner of 50 disease/didorder-specific news and information websites – including MS News Today. Ian has enjoyed a successful career as a journalist, from reporter to editor, in the print media. During that career he gained a Journalist of the Year award in his native UK. He was diagnosed with MS in 2002 but continued working until mobility problems forced him to retire early in late 2006. He now lives in the south of Spain. Besides MS, Ian is also able to write about both epilepsy and cardiovascular matters from a patient’s perspective and is a keen advocate on mobility and accessibility issues.

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