MD, PhD, FMedSci, FSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

On this blog, we have already discussed the good news that the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is considering whether advertisements for homeopathic products have any evidence to back the numerous claims that are being made for them. A meeting took place on 21 September, and now the first details are emerging.

Michelle Rusk, senior staff attorney in the FTC advertising practices division, said in this public hearing on over-the-counter homeopathic products that advertisements lauding the health benefits of medical products need to be based on competent, reliable, and rigorous scientific support.

“As a general rule, for treatment claims, we expect randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical studies—not in vitro studies, not animal studies, not anecdotal evidence, no matter how compelling it is,” she said. “Second, we expect the studies to be internally valid. That means well-designed, reliably conducted, using procedures accepted in the field of research. It also means that results are not just statistically significant but also strong enough to be clinically meaningful. Third, the evidence has to match the product and the specific claim.”

In the context of any form of health care, such statements would amount to mere platitudes: the fact that we cannot possibly tolerate double standards in medicine is almost too obvious to mention. In the realm of homeopathy, however, these words amount to a revolution!

Could it be that the days of bogus claims for homeopathic products are counted?

Could it be that consumers might soon be protected from unscrupulous entrepreneurs exploiting the vulnerable?

Could it be that, one day, we will have one standard only?

17 Responses to Homeopathy and the US Federal Trade Commission: double standards might soon be a thing of the past

  • The comment time for this been extended to November 20, 2015 by FTC.

    I have been involved and submitted comment in favor of more accurate labeling of some homeopathic products for many folks label substances as homeopathic and have ruined the true practice of classical homeopathy.

    As for Ms Rusk comments, I agree to a certain point that [quote]“As a general rule, for treatment claims, we expect randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled human clinical studies—not in vitro studies, not animal studies, not anecdotal evidence, no matter how compelling it is.”[unquote] We must treat homeopathic remedy studies the same as any other OTC medication.

    [quote]“Second, we expect the studies to be internally valid. That means well-designed, reliably conducted, using procedures accepted in the field of research. It also means that results are not just statistically significant but also strong enough to be clinically meaningful. Third, the evidence has to match the product and the specific claim.”[unquote]
    I agree here too but the RCT must be true to homeopathy and not conventional medicine. Homeopathy works on the energy of levels of the body and not just chemical medicine. So trials need to be done correctly.

    [quote] Could it be that the days of bogus claims for homeopathic products are counted?[unquote] Doubtful. Homeopathy has much to give the world, but we need to get the charlatans gone.

    [quote]Could it be that consumers might soon be protected from unscrupulous entrepreneurs exploiting the vulnerable?[unquote]. Hope so.

    [quote]Could it be that, one day, we will have one standard only?[unquote]. I hope NOT. If that happens then TRUTH will die and be stamped out by “do gooders” who think they know all the answers.

    It is a fine line between protecting the public and controlling people. In USA, Health is a persons right (so far) just like free speech, gun possession and a group of other “thangs” (as we Texans say). Lets let people make there own choices.

    If my homeopathy does not heal my clients animals or plants, in USA, I will go out of business. Here in Texas word spreads and if homeopathy is fraud, animals die and crops fail then all will soon know it. But if homeopathy helps the animals and plants immune systems “cure” themselves when chemical medicine has failed then that word spreads too.
    Buyer beware for sure but lets not “throw the baby out with the bath water” due to lack of knowedge.

    • You seem to be implying that any studies done must be done under Homeopathy rules as using any other standardised testing is not appropriate. This is akin to throwing a woman into water and saying she is a witch if she floats (or is it the other way round, better brush up my Witchcraft before Halloween.)

      The USA has already made its own choices re gun possession, free speech etc and the results are not all that good.

      • [quote] You seem to be implying that any studies done must be done under Homeopathy rules as using any other standardised testing is not appropriate [unquote].

        No I am not implying that. I believe in proper trials, just don’t skew the conclusions with presuppositions. As I was taught in statistics class, “Figures Lie, Liars Figure”. I am just tired of “fixing the results” and not being open and fair.

    • @Ted Maines:

      I agree here too but the RCT must be true to homeopathy and not conventional medicine. Homeopathy works on the energy of levels of the body and not just chemical medicine. So trials need to be done correctly.

      You have said something like this in another thread, but you haven’t actually said what you think is wrong with the way RCTs of homoeopathy have been carried out. If you want your objection to be taken seriously, you should be specific, rather than trying to handwave them away like this.

      • Mojo:
        [quote] You have said something like this in another thread, but you haven’t actually said what you think is wrong with the way RCTs of homoeopathy have been carried out. If you want your objection to be taken seriously, you should be specific, rather than trying to handwave them away like this. [unquote].

        Nothing wrong about RCT as long the are done properly. Homeopathy is individual, so you can not take 100 patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis and give the test group the same remedy (excluding control of course). Homeopathy does not work that way. One need to do a full workup on each patient and apply the proper remedy. In Chemical Medicine RCT, all patients receive the drug or placebo.

        Homeopathy treats all symptoms (Acute, Chronic and Maisms). Depending on Maisms , that must be treated too. You can now see that RCT’s have challenges.

        • @Ted Maines:

          RCTs of individualised homeopathy have been carried out. The results are no better than those for non-individualised homoeopathy-. This suggests that the failure of homoeopathy in RCTs is not an artifact caused by lack of individualisation.

        • @ Ted Maines
          Do you mean miasms, when you write maisms? Do you have even a vague comprehension of how the body works and how Hahnemann’s ‘miasms’ (‘infectious principles’) are obsolete and ludicrous? RCTs indeed have challenges when they come up against such fundamentally dumb nonsense. You don’t need RCTs for gobbledygook: you need better education.

          • RCTs indeed have challenges when they come up against such fundamentally dumb nonsense.

            Not really: since the treatment is a small, colourless, odourless sugar pill, once the homoeopath gas gone through their “individualisation” process, messed around with a pendulum, sacrificed one of Ted’s 10,000 chickens, or done whatever else they want to do, it is perfectly simple to swap the remedy out for a small, colourless, odourless placebo sugar pill for the subjects in the control group.

    • @Ted Maines:

      Do you think that patients who are treated with homoeopathy will have better outcomes than patients who are not treated with homoeopathy?

      • @Mojo
        [quote] Do you think that patients who are treated with homoeopathy will have better outcomes than patients who are not treated with homeopathy? [unquote]. Yes. If not treated for HIV/AIDS, we have seen hundreds in Africa die. The villages nearby where do not treat patients have high rate of death.

        In my trials of (10,000) chickens respiratory failure, the control groups (no remedies in water) have a 97% death rate. The homeopathic treated chickens have less than 20% death rate. The groups treated with standard antibiotic therapy have a 78% mortality rate. It is hard to understand the Placebo effect with chickens (or any animal).

        • How did you individualise the remedies to the chickens? What blinding method was used? And where can we see this result published?

        • @Ted Maines
          “It is hard to understand the Placebo effect with chickens (or any animal).” If you find that hard to understand then you really haven’t much of a clue. It’s been explained umpteen times on this blog and in many other sources.
          The data you claim in your trial of 10,000 chickens are anywhere near real then you’re a Novel Prize candidate. Where have the experimental details and the detailed results been published?

        • What on earth?! Chicken stock with a 97% death rate of respiratory failure! You better hope the TDA or the TAHC or whatever agency is responsible for livestock welfare in your state don’t find out about this. They might want to ask some pretty stern questions.

          What do you do (or not do) to the poor poultry to have such an abysmal morbidity? I grew up on a poultry farm and we never had this magnitude of problems. Antibiotics worked fine the rare occasion they were needed. We cared well for our stock, good housing, adequate ventilation, clean water, dry floor spread and good feed. That’s what keeps the hens happy and the vet away (and the animal welfare agency).

          Or…
          I don’t think you are so poor at arithmetic as to simply count wrong, so I believe there is another likely explanation to these claims of yours… This looks very much like you are simply making things up just to impress. Just like the nincompoops in “Homeopaths Without Borders”. You seem to believe their self purported claims, right?
          Now, tell us farmer Maines (if that is your real name?)…
          How do you think the homeopaths manage to keep this wonderful HIV/AIDS cure isolated in Africa and other far away regions where they drop shaken water and sugar pills on ignorant populations? If homeopathy really works as you/they say, don’t you think every HIV/AIDS patient in America and the rest of the world would be popping sugar pilules or shaken water by now? Or does homeopathy only work on the non-educated and/or ignorant?

          • Whoops, I caught it too late. I meant to say “…’indigent’ populations”, not ‘ignorant’. The word “ignorant” at the end of the comment is as intended though.

          • What do you do (or not do) to the poor poultry to have such an abysmal morbidity?

            Maybe he planted them too close together.

  • Lol I’ve been ****ed up by more medical doctors (AND SPECIFICALLY THEIR DRUGS) than I have by chiropractors.

  • As long as the federal government pays for the research and development of specific research guidelines developed by homeopathic physicians of all stripes, this is fine with me. Has such research been done for all OTC medicaments like salicilates of various stripes, combination drugs, as all patients who take drugs rarely take only one, and surgery?

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