MD, PhD, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP, FRCPEd.

As this press-release is important and entirely self-explanatory, I will post it here without comment (other than congratulating the CFI for their action and encouraging organisations in other countries to follow suit) :

The Center for Inquiry has filed a lawsuit in the District of Columbia on behalf of the general public against drug retailer CVS for consumer fraud over its sale and marketing of useless homeopathic medicines. CFI, an organization advancing reason and science, accused the country’s largest drug retailer of deceiving consumers through its misrepresentation of homeopathy’s safety and effectiveness, wasting customers’ money and putting their health at risk.

Click here to access the official complaint (PDF).

Homeopathy is an 18th-century pseudoscience premised on the absurd, unscientific notion that a substance that causes a particular symptom is what should be ingested to alleviate it. Dangerous substances are diluted to the point that no trace of the active ingredient remains, but its alleged effectiveness rests on the nonsensical claim that water molecules have “memories” of the original substance. Homeopathic treatments have no effect whatsoever beyond that of a placebo.

“Homeopathy is a total sham, and CVS knows it. Yet the company persists in deceiving its customers about the effectiveness of homeopathic products,” said Nicholas Little, CFI’s Vice President and General Counsel. “Homeopathics are shelved right alongside scientifically-proven medicines, under the same signs for cold and flu, pain relief, sleep aids, and so on.”

“If you search for ‘flu treatment’ on their website, it even suggests homeopathics to you,” said Little. “CVS is making no distinction between those products that have been vetted and tested by science, and those that are nothing but snake oil.”

Apart from being a waste of money, choosing homeopathic treatments to the exclusion of evidence-based medicines can result in worsened or prolonged symptoms, and in some cases, even death. Several products have been found to contain poisonous ingredients which have affected tens of thousands of adults and children in just the last few years.

“CVS is taking cynical advantage of their customers’ confusion and trust in the CVS brand, and putting their health at risk to make a profit,” said Little. “And they can’t claim ignorance. If the people in charge of the country’s largest pharmacy don’t know that homeopathy is bunk, they should be kept as far away from the American healthcare system as possible.”

“We made a number of efforts to discuss this situation with CVS, but the concerns we raised were ignored,” said Robyn Blumner, president and CEO of CFI. “Homeopathy is a multi-billion dollar consumer fraud. If CVS would rather line its pockets than protect Americans’ health, we have no choice but to take this fight to the courts.”

CFI has for many years lobbied for tighter regulation of homeopathic products, and has been invited by the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission to provide expert testimony. As a result, the FTC declared in 2016 that the marketing of homeopathic products for specific diseases and symptoms is only acceptable if consumers are told: “(1) there is no scientific evidence that the product works and (2) the product’s claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts.” And last year, the FDA announced a new “risk-based” policy of regulatory action against homeopathic products.

“CVS should be warned, the evidence for our case is extremely strong,” said Blumner. “And if CVS’s endorsement of homeopathy is any indication, evidence will not be their strong suit.”

10 Responses to Center for Inquiry Sues Drug Retailer for Fraud Over Sale of Homeopathic Medicine

  • Legal action, in my opinion, is almost the only way to go (probably the most effective on the short term). Lawsuits like this will hopefully convince regulators, politicians etc to stop their support of quackery in other countries as well.

  • An excellent example for other nations to follow. Quickly.

  • I am anxious to know the results. On the one hand, it seems that tolerance of blatant health fraud such as homeopathy is eroding, which would tend to increase chances of success, but given that the Land of Trump glorifies making money above all other considerations, snake oil merchants using homeopathy as a scheme for selling inferior bad-tasting candy for high profit could well be seen as a some type of True American heroes.

    • It will take many months until we have a result

      • It will take many months until we have a result

        “Let it take time”, I think. We have waited for so long, we can wait a little longer and hope that this time will be used to expose all (lack of) evidence for and against homeopathy. With (a lot of?) luck, this could turn out to be the Kitzmiller case of homeopathy.

        • Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District was filed with Federal Court. Grounds were violation of certain aspects of First Amendment. CSI is filing in DC court, on a breach of State law rather than US Constitution.

          There have been a number of class actions against vendors of homeopathic drugs (to use US terminology) that arguably have already set precedent but still it goes on…

      • It will take many months until we have a result

        Ah, so this is a homeopathic lawsuit?

        (Sorry, but I couldn’t resist this one…)

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