Thanks to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), homeopathic remedies sold in the U.S. will now have to carry a warning label saying that the product’s claims are “not accepted by most modern medical experts” and that “there is no scientific evidence the product works.”
If the product’s makers fail to do so, they will be in violation of federal laws that prohibit deceptive advertising.
From Chemistry World:
The body has released an enforcement policy statement clarifying that homeopathic drugs are not exempt from rules that apply to other health products when it comes to claims of efficacy and should not be treated differently. In order for any claims in adverts or on packaging not to be ‘misleading’ to consumers it should be clearly communicated that they are based on theories developed in the 1700s and that there is a lack of evidence to back them up, the statement says.
The statement adds that the FTC will “carefully [scrutinize] the net impression of [over the counter] homeopathic advertising or other marketing … to ensure that it adequately conveys the extremely limited nature of the health claim being asserted.”
Homeopathic products have long enjoyed an exemption from regulation, and have been widely available in stores like CVS and Whole Foods. They claim to treat everything from hay fever, head injury, hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, HIV, and hypertension.
The warning labels will carry the following disclaimers: “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.”
There is 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. As health policy expert Timothy Caulfield recently said, “to believe homeopathy works … is to believe in magic.” Detractors like him suggest the most likely explanation for homeopathy’s perceived efficacy is a combination of wishful thinking and placebo effect. This view of homeopathy has been popular for nearly two centuries: “The homeopathic method,” wrote physician Jacob Bigelow in 1835, “consists in leaving the case to nature, while the patient is amused with nominal and nugatory remedies.”
Government data shows that Americans spend over $3 billion a year on homeopathic remedies, and that figure is steadily increasing.