The FDA is finally planning to investigate the $6 billion-a-year homeopathy scam

The FDA will finally investigate homeopathic drugs after years without regulation. Homeopathic drugs are sold over-the-counter at stores all over the country and promote that they are natural, safe, and inexpensive cures to nearly any type of disease or ailment.

The Food and Drug Administration is now planning to test homeopathic remedies after the Federal Trade Commission pressured the FDA earlier this year to investigate the $6.4 Billion industry. Homeopathy was developed in Germany over 200 years ago, and has been used to combat disease since then.

Homeopathic remedies are made of germs or other chemicals found in plants or animals. For example the active agent in Oscillococcinum, a homeopathic cold cure, is diluted approximately a nonillion times — that’s a 1 with 30 zeroes behind it. At that point, it is mathematically impossible for any of the key homeopathic element’s molecules to remain in the solution. Homeopathy claims that the more the solution is diluted, the stronger it becomes. Oscillococcinum x30 retails for $15, and can be found at many drug stores and grocery stores.

Many medical professionals want homeopathic cures to be regulated because they mislead customers on their effectiveness. Most doctors and researchers agree that the only results patients see from homeopathic cures can be attributed to the placebo effect — a phenomenon where a patient feels better after taking “medicine” that does not have a physiological effect.

“Consumers are constantly being misled about homeopathics,” said Edzard Ernst, a professor of complementary medicine at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, to BuzzFeed News. “They believe that they are natural, safe, and effective — none of this is true.”

The biggest issue with homeopathic cures is not just that they mislead customers and potentially waste their money, but that they delay patients from seeking proper treatment, which is life-threatening. Homeopathic remedies for diseases like AIDS and Cancer are available, and are marketed as an effective alternative treatment, while there is no evidence to suggest that they are helpful.

Another major issue that the FDA will target in their probe is the potential for the medications to be toxic. In 2009, over 130 people lost their sense of smell after taking Zicam, a homeopathic cold remedy that contained toxic amounts of Zinc, even after dilution.

The FDA and FTC’s regulations for homeopathic remedies will not remove the alternative medications from shelves. The investigation may remove some toxic remedies, but the ultimate goal of the FDA is put a label on the medications that state the cures have not been tested or approved, similar to labels on many dietary supplements.

Of course, homeopathic remedies have many supporters that claim the cures are a safe, effective, and affordable alternative to the powerful hold that pharmaceutical companies have on the healthcare industry.

Featured image via Flickr

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