MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

First it was the Australians who made life more difficult for homeopaths; then the FDA announced that they plan to have a critical look at homeopathy. Now the Canadians have joined in with the other regulators getting concerned about the most overt abuses of medical evidence and ethics by manufacturers of homeopathic products. Here is a statement that was just published on the labelling of some Canadian homeopathic remedies:

Health Canada is advising consumers that it is introducing label changes for certain homeopathic products that fall under the Natural Health Product Regulations (NHPR). Current labelling on some homeopathic products may not provide Canadians with the information they need to make informed choices. The changes apply to the labelling of some homeopathic products, specifically nosode products as well as homeopathic cough, cold and flu products for children 12 and under.

The Department is introducing these changes to ensure that Canadians who choose to use homeopathic products have the information they need to improve their safe use, especially parents trying to make the best choices for their children.

Health Canada is requesting the addition of statements on homeopathic nosode products to make it clear that they are not vaccines or alternatives to vaccines to improve the safe use of these products.

Companies of nosode products have been asked to comply with these changes by January 2016. The new statement for nosode products is: “This product is neither a vaccine nor an alternative to vaccination. This product has not been proven to prevent infection. Health Canada does not recommend its use in children and advises that your child receive all routine vaccinations.”

In addition, Health Canada is no longer allowing companies to make specific health claims on homeopathic products for cough, cold, and flu for children 12 and under, unless those claims are supported by scientific evidence.

Companies have been asked to comply with this new labelling change by July 2016.

For more information about the labelling requirements for homeopathic products, consult the Health Canada Web site.

Health Canada reminds Canadians of the importance of vaccinations, to protect themselves, their families, and communities by ensuring their vaccinations are up to date. Immunization saves lives. The World Health Organization estimates immunization prevents between 2-3 million deaths every year.

Not nearly enough, some will say. But even they will have to admit that this is yet another (small) step in the right direction. I wonder when the UK authorities will do something similar (perhaps when Prince Charles is on summer vacation?).

25 Responses to More bad news for homeopaths

  • Are the authorities really so frightened of HRH?

  • Follow the money. I would bet that the motivation for this investigation comes from big pharma, which controls the FDA. If big pharma was not in control, there would be no statins which are near worthless and dangerous.

    • have you forgotten to take your homeopathic remedies against paranoia?

      • BMA Policy is that homeopathic remedies should not be used in the NHS (and therefore not sold to the NHS) unless and until NICE has reported on their cost-effectiveness.
        NICE has ignored the request to report “because HRH would not like it”.
        A direct quote from my namesake when he was Chairman of NICE.
        Also reported by the current chairman of BMA Council.
        So yes, there is undue and unwarranted interference with establishing the value to a health system of homeopathic remedies.
        We know they have value to private patients.
        We have Dr Peter Fisher’s word for that.
        We know care of any sort is ‘beneficial’ to patients – but I can find no evidence that remedies are any better than placebos.

        So the inference must be – remedies are placebos.
        Going through the rigmarole of ‘homeopathic preparation’ is an unecessary expenditure which does nothing except provide profit for the manufacturers.
        And I do not want my contributions to the NHS to be spent on placebos to satisfy whims.

        It is a disgrace that Canadian patients are better informed about this (by regulation) than those in the UK.

        • OK, that answers my query more than adequately. Fully grown adults who are paid quite a lot of our money to protect us are frightened of speaking the truth because they fear HRH’s wrath. What on earth do they think he is going to do to them? Or is it rather more that they are scared of being left out of the Honours List one day?

    • Money indeed! The homeopathic industry has somehow managed to play by a different set of rules. Whereas pharmaceuticals are required to have well-controlled clinical studies to demonstrate efficacy, homeopathic preparations have long been exempt. Why do you suppose that is? As over-the-counter (OTC) remedies, they are required by law to have proven benefits and demonstrable mechanisms of action.

      Way back in 1994, when the U.S. government passed the Dietary Supplement and Health Education Act (DSHEA), I recall having asked various Americans attending Natural Products Expo West why stronger claims were not allowed for herbal products compared to homeopathic remedies devoid of any active constituents. Basically, I was told not bring it up. As I predicted, the market became infected with products containing homeopathic preparations with stronger health claims than permitted for the admixed ingredients, be they herbal extracts, dried and powdered plants, vitamins, and sundry other substances, but for which the same claims would not be allowed. Manufacturers were knowingly adding what some referred to as pixie dust to gain a market advantage. After a number of complaints from competitors in the dietary supplement (DS) industry, the FDA finally disallowed the practice, just as the law applies to mixtures of any other OTC products with DS. Of course, that doesn’t mean the practice of adulterating DS with homeopathic remedies has entirely stopped.

    • Are homeopathic remedies free?

      • no – only free of active molecules

        • You are not truthful.

          http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23163497

          Where did the adverse effect come from?

          “Rhus toxidendron was the most frequently implicated homeopathic remedy.”

          What potency?

          • you are correct – some homeopathic remedies are not highly diluted and therefore contain active molecules and therefore can cause adverse effects.
            my remark referred to the vast majority of remedies which contain no molecules.

          • You did not answer the question:

            What potency?

          • What you define above is actually good news for Homeopathy.

            Once the deadwood is removed, good quality homeopathy will remain.

            With the chronic diseases increasing-courtesy the allopathic medical system- patients will be left with no choice: either move to alternative medicine and improve quality of life (what is left of it) or die painful death while paying for the drugs that were in the first place responsible for the existing condition.

            Antibiotics were being blamed for creating super bugs, now are being seen as reason for most deadly diseases: read Dr. Blaser – Missing microbes

          • IKZ obviously thinks highly of his/her insight into medicine but his/her ignorance of the subject could not be more evident. A dazzling example of the Dunning-Kruger effect at play within the cult of homeopathy 🙂

          • A simple answer was required from E Ernst:

            The potency of Rhus Tox that was leading to adverse effects?

            Where does Dunning-Kruger come in from?

            It is important to go in detail to find the truth. I am sure when we have all the answers, the “adverse effects of Rhus Tox” would no longer be available.

    • Brooks Butler,

      Yes indeed, follow the money! I would likewise bet that one of the motivations to support homeopathy is solely because it is a multi-billion dollar per annum industry. Big Pharma is producing and vending many of homeopathy’s products “which are near worthless and dangerous”.

      Thank you for highlighting the absurdity of claims that Big Pharma controls of the FDA (or any other administration responsible for addressing public health issues).

    • “Follow the money…”

      That is exactly what the Big-Homeo is doing.

  • Sweeet!!!

  • One probably has to be grateful for even the smallest favour, but it feels like a pyrrhic victory. Boiron and other candy manufacturers will simply continue the unsavoury practice of providing “information” on or just next to the shelves where their overpriced sugar is being displayed for sale. If my experience in a different context is anything to go on, most of the people who buy this junk will probably not even notice the cautionary note.
    My *guess* is that it is going to be useful only for skeptics, who will now – finally – be able to point at the warning on blogs and in interviews and maybe, just maybe, in one on one conversations with gullible victims of this sordid industry.
    That is, if such products will ever appear on the market in the first place. All the industry has to do is remove the specific cold claim, and they will still be able to claim “Safe for children!” or something similar, right on the package, with no warnings of any kind.

  • One of the most critical investigations into the current allowance of homeopathic preparations in the UK was published 23 February, 2015 under the title, The Evidence for David Redinnick MP.

    http://www.zenosblog.com/2015/02/the-evidence-for-david-tredinnick-mp/

    Particular to the regulation of homeopathy in the UK, as well as being useful to medical students who have yet to understand homeopathy, the article provides a link to a revealing and entertaining documentary in 3 parts:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZZsDi_RoLw

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZZsDi_RoLw

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C6yqd_qr3Xk

  • Unproven homeopathic remedies for kids still promising relief despite new label rules

    Two years after Marketplace exposed how Health Canada was approving homeopathic children’s remedies that promise relief without any scientific evidence to back up the claims on their labels, the government’s promised crackdown is difficult to spot on drugstore shelves.

    In the episode that aired in March 2015, CBC journalists created a fever and pain remedy for children called Nighton (an anagram for “nothing”). They applied for a Health Canada licence using only a few photocopied pages from a homeopathic reference book printed in 1902 to prove the product would provide effective relief for fever, pain and inflammation in children.

    That was all it took for Health Canada to approve those claims for Nighton’s label.

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