MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd

It was the very first sentence of the Boiron US website on Oscillococcinum (we have discussed this amazing product before) that caught my attention: “Homeopathy is a therapeutic method that uses diluted substances to relieve symptoms.” I think this is demonstrably wrong.

  • Homeopathy is a therapeutic method that uses mostly the complete absence of an ingredient, and not ‘diluted substances’; specifically, Oscillococcinum is a  C 200 potency ( 1: 0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000) which means the likelihood of any substance being present is zero.
  • Homeopathy is, according to Hahnemann, not ‘to relieve symptoms’ but to tackle the root cause of the condition. Hahnemann meant it to be a causal and not a symptomatic treatment (the truth is that it neither relieves symptoms or the root cause of anything).

And then the website continued to puzzle me by stating this: “The active ingredients in homeopathic medicines include diluted plants, animals or minerals that relieve the same symptoms they cause at full strength (i.e., a micro dose of coffee bean helps to relieve nervousness).” This is wrong too, I think:

  • there is no active ingredient in homeopathic medicines,
  • many of the mother tinctures used in homeopathy cause no symptoms whatsoever,
  • a zero dose is not a micro dose,
  • homeopathic coffee does not relieve nervousness better than a placebo.

Now my interest was aroused and I decided to read on. This is what I found under the heading of ‘Frequently Asked Questions’:

START OF QUOTE

Are there clinical studies on Oscillococcinum?

Yes. Two studies, published in peer-reviewed journals, show that Oscillococcinum helps to reduce the severity and shorten the duration of flu-like symptoms.1-2 The most recent study showed that 63 percent of the patients who took Oscillo at the onset of flu-like symptoms showed “clear improvement” or “complete resolution” of their symptoms after 48 hours, vs. 48% with a placebo.2

1Papp R, Schuback G, Beck E, et al. Oscillococcinum in patients with influenza-like syndromes: a placebo-controlled, double-blind evaluation. Br Homeopath J. 1998;87:69-76. 2Ferley JP, Zmirou D, D’Adhemar D, Balducci F. A controlled evaluation of a homeopathic preparation in the treatment of influenza-like syndromes. Br J Clin Pharmacol. 1989;27:329-335.

END OF QUOTE

Now, this is strange!

Why would they cite just two studies when there are several more? Surely they don’t want to be seen to be cherry picking!?!? The current Cochrane review by Mathie RT, Frye J, Fisher P., for instance, included 6 trials!

And what did this review show?

The authors concluded that “There is insufficient good evidence to enable robust conclusions to be made about Oscillococcinum® in the prevention or treatment of influenza and influenza-like illness. Our findings do not rule out the possibility that Oscillococcinum® could have a clinically useful treatment effect but, given the low quality of the eligible studies, the evidence is not compelling. There was no evidence of clinically important harms due to Oscillococcinum®.”

Even though the authors of this Cochrane review are amongst the most ardent homeopathy-promoters on the planet (if not they would not have included this odd 2nd sentence in the above quote), this conclusion does not seem to please Boiron (Christian Boiron seems to have not much time for critical thinking; in a recent, short interview he opined that “Il y a un Ku Klux Klan contre l’homéopathie” THERE IS A KU KLUX KLAN AGAINST HOMEOPATHY).

After studying all this, I ask myself whether Boiron is telling the truth.

What do you think?

 

 

 

9 Responses to Is Boiron (the world’s biggest manufacturer of homeopathics) telling the truth? What do you think?

  • Edzard Ernst: ‘many of the mother tinctures used in homeopathy cause no symptoms whatsoever’

    Note the difference between ‘many’ and ‘all’.

    Dr. Ernst: name one mother tincture used in homeopathy that causes physical symptoms.

    This is for the benefit of your friend Professor Odds (who otherwise will continue seeming as clueless as ‘Dr’ Geir)

    • I am not prof. Ernst but mother tinctures (and even low potencies such as D2) I’ve encountered giving clinically relevant effects include Aconitum (VES, tachycardia), Belladonna (mydriasis, nausea, confusion) and Bryonia (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea) – of course any classical homeopath would argue that this is due to missuse of the remedy…

  • The Ku Klux Klan reference is, quite evidently,, shocking.
    I imagine that to Colin, the Homeopathic Bobby, it will be shrugged off as ”Fake news’.
    It’s rather similar to the hysteria and malicious lies of extremists who claim that any critic of current Israeli policies must be publicly declared to be an anti- Semite( ( as happened to me recently).
    An indication of the dangers in not taking cultists seriously.

  • Obviously not telling the truth, but it is questionable whether they are lying as well… To lie, it is necessary to know there is a truth, as well as the content of that truth. They are obviously willfully ignorant, as mandated when stakes are high and you have many to please.

    As most homeopathic product manufacturers, they keep proving mother tinctures of money over and over again. Greed and hypocrisy are quite apparent symptoms. If a good 200C prescription of money is administered to them and many customers refrain from buying into this homeopathic hocus pocus, they might regain some sense of reality back.

  • Good grief Dr Ernst, you stated previously that comments should be on topic. Ho-ho, is your passing of Barrie’s comment double standards again Edzard?

  • OK… so we’re talking about an influenza ‘remedy’ based on ‘bacteria’ that later turned out NOT to exist (since nobody except Mr. Roy himself has ever observed these ‘Oscillococci’), and therefore can NOT be related to the cause of influenza at all (also since flu is cause by real viruses, not nonexistent bacteria), and with influenza viruses NOT being present in duck heart and liver (not to mention the fact that to the best of my knowledge, it is strictly forbidden to use birds with avian flu for any purpose whatsoever, and that contaminated animals are to be destroyed as soon as they are found), so that flu symptoms have NOT got anything to do with this purported remedy whatsoever; and now it turns out that any studies with negative results are NOT mentioned by Boiron.

    And now you ask whether Boiron is telling the truth about Oscillococcinum? Well, let’s just say that those people there in Boiron’s headquarters are probably laughing themselves silly all the time, literally selling a “quack” (as in: based on duck) remedy that is based on nothing but colossal mistakes, even by homeopathic standards, with a nigh unpronounceable gobbledygook name, taking in over half a billion dollars annually from gullible and unsuspecting customers, year after year…
    No, of course they’re not telling the truth, and they almost certainly know this too. But who cares about the truth if you can make hundreds of millions by selling blatant untruths and getting away with it?

    • In the context of recent revelations (Paradise Papers) I wonder if Boiron makes use of tax shelters? Presumably the more it dilutes its income the less tax it pays because that potentizes tax dodging?

      • Boiron’s annual report mentions a tax rate of 38%, but it is not fully clear if this is what they actually pay.
        On a side note: I often bring up these figures when alternative apologists complain that pharmaceutical companies spend ‘only’ some 25% of their turnover on R&D, about the same as they spend on marketing. Boiron has an annual turnover of 614 million euros, yet spends less than 4 million euros on R&D, boiling down to a paltry 0.65% of their turnover (whereas 22% is spent on marketing, more than any other expenditure, including production cost).

  • Boiron’s business model puts “Big Pharma” in the shade – infinitely dilutable “remedies”, no requirement to show efficacy – they’re laughing!

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