New Guidelines for Homeopathic Drugs
On Tuesday, November 15, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced an “Enforcement Policy Statement on Marketing Claims for Over-the-Counter (OTC) Homeopathic Drugs.” Essentially, it was stated that the FTC will now hold claims for homeopathic drugs to the same standard as all other OTC treatments.
Homeopathy is an alternative practice of medicine, and was created in Germany in the late-eighteenth century. It is based upon the theory of “like cures like,” and the “law of minimum dose,” which essentially state that substances that cause harmful symptoms are able to cure these same symptoms in sick people, and that the smaller the dosage of medicine, the more effective it is, respectively. Because of this, many homeopathic medications are extremely diluted, meaning that they contain very little of the substance that is meant to provide treatment. Homeopathic treatments are made from substances from animals, plants, and minerals. Some popular remedies are derived from onions, arnica (a mountain daisy), chamomile, St. John’s wort, and poison ivy. While there is currently little evidence to prove that homeopathic treatments are effective, they remain popular. According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, consumers spent 2.9 billion dollars on homeopathic remedies in 2007, and it is estimated that 1 million children and 5 million adults used homeopathy in the United States in 2011.
Now, the FTC is requiring all producers of homeopathic drugs to either prove that their treatments work or clearly indicate on their labels that there is no scientific evidence that the products work. The FTC is not able to prevent producers of homeopathic treatments from selling their products. However, some believe that the FDA, which does have this power, may consider this in the future.
Homeopathy is certainly a controversial topic. Many people claim that homeopathic remedies have worked for them, and swear by the efficacy of various substances. However, the theories that homeopathy is based upon are not supported by many modern medical experts or by the basic principles of biology, chemistry, and physics. Regardless of whether they believe in the use of homeopathic drugs, many can agree that these new guidelines are for the better. As stated previously, the FTC will not be preventing producers from distributing homeopathic treatments; they will only be encouraging them to provide proof of the efficacy of their products.