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

The Center for Science in the Public Interest*** (CSPI) announced its agreement with Boiron to improve the labeling on the homeopathic products manufactured by Boiron and sold under the Boiron or other private label brands. The agreement covers the labeling for over 50 homeopathic products.

On Boiron’s Oscillococcinum and two similar products, Boiron will substantially increase the prominence of the words “Homeopathic Medicine” on the front of the box and the disclaimer on the back of the box that says the product’s uses have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). These changes will make it easier for consumers to identify that the products are homeopathic products, and are not FDA approved over-the-counter medicines.

For all of the other homeopathic products manufactured by Boiron, consumers will receive much more information on the packages. In addition to increasing the prominence of the words “Homeopathic Medicine,” a new disclaimer in large and contrasting font will be added to the back of the package (endorsed by the American Association of Homeopathic Pharmacists) stating: “Claims based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence, and not FDA evaluated.”…

“The labeling changes that Boiron has agreed to on all the products covered by the agreement will help consumers more clearly identify that these are homeopathic products and are not FDA approved over-the-counter medicines that have been scientifically proven to be safe and effective,” said CSPI litigation director Lisa Mankofsky. “In addition, the vast majority of the covered homeopathic products will bear a disclaimer clarifying that they are based on traditional homeopathic practice, not accepted medical evidence, and not FDA evaluated. We think that consumers will find this labeling change important when choosing a remedy. We encourage other manufacturers to similarly make their labels more transparent and clear for consumers.”

Bravo!

Clearly a step into the right direction!

But it’s a small step only. It is a long way short of what Dylan Evans suggestied in his book ‘Placebo‘, first published in 2004:

Warning: this product is a placebo. It will work only if you believe in homeopathy, and only for certain conditions such as pain and depression. Even then, it is not likely to be as powerful as orthodox drugs. You may get fewer side-effects from this treatment than from a drug, but you will probably also get less benefit.

***The Center for Science in the Public Interest is perhaps the oldest independent, science-based consumer advocacy organization with an impressive record of accomplishments and a clear and ambitious agenda for improving the food system to support healthy eating.

18 Responses to Improved labeling on US homeopathic products

  • I think it would be helpful if ‘remedies’ above 12C potency – lets say Rhus Tox, for example – stated in bold on the label “Does not contain Rhus Tox”.

    Consumers might then be forced, a little, to consider “Well, what DOES it contain – what am I buying?” Professor Ernst, I know you have already played with an idea like this in relation to Mercuris.

    I’m thinking whimsically now of the homeopathic preparation Luna, and pondering that if you went to the pharmacy and sang “Gimmie the moonlight”, the pharmacist could be prosecuted for consumer fraud if he sold you Luna 30C.

    In a mealy-mouthed way, I suppose it would be argued that “Rhus Tox”, “Nat Mur”, “Luna” etc etc are understood to be the names of homeopathic PREPARATIONS, not the names of ingedients.

  • All marketed homeopathic products should be clearly labelled to identify the homeopathic status.
    The homeopathic dilution method should be made clear on any website.
    This is currently the case in the UK. Besides who in the UK could not be aware that homeopathic remedies are diluted out of existence and dont work according to ‘ expert scientists’?
    The regulators maybe dont insist on further statements on labels because of this. Also they would get complaints from 1000s like me who would tell them to back off.
    Maybe some members of the public in the US buy homeopathic remedies uninformed but in the UK all users have come across and communicate with know what we are doing. We read or hear that homeopathy doesnt apparently work all the time. We listen to our own ‘experts’ not other ‘experts’.

    • Dendra I think you are over-optimistic about the degree of knowledge of most consumers of homeopathy in the UK. That is my entirely anecdote-based opinion.

      • there is even good evidence to show that consumers regularly confuse homeopathy with herbalism

        • Why am I not surprised the only way Dendra can defend her precious religion is to lie? #MisinformedConsent

          • I agree that a few do confuse homeopathy with herbalism not that I see this much on social media groups where everyone seems fully aware. However the whole UK media NHS, GPs advise that homeopathy has no evidence.
            So where is the threat?
            It is not my fault that so many are suspicious of media and some medical advice. On hearing homeopathy dosent work they then want to try it!
            Deny people their experiences and they will fight all the more and spread the word. Then more try it.
            So homeopathy increases in popularity and some on here sit there wondering why.

          • Where is the threat? The threat, surely, is that someone may forego an effective treatment that works much better than placebo, in favour of a treatment that works no better than placebo and that therefore the health problem continues to develop to the point of death.

          • Dendra, I don’t think it’s “a few” who confuse homeopathy with herbalism. I think it’s many. And even more who simply have very little idea about what homeopathy purports to be.

            There is, or was, an American “naturopath” on YouTube with a whiteboard, ‘explaining’ homeopathy. Part of his explanation was clearly about isopathy, and in response to a comment, he said that he had never heard of isopathy. I can’t find this video on YouTube now; maybe he took it down.

            Over the years, attending various health events, it seemed to me that “lay homeopaths” in particular, knew very little about it.

          • Oh yes the ‘public dying in droves from not going to the Dr ‘ routine.
            Where is the evidence for this please?
            By evidence I dont mean anecdotes. Anecdotes dont equal evidence.

          • What proof are you asking for, Dendra? Proof that a person with a serious progressive illness (say an agressive form of cancer) is likely to die faster if they don’t go to a doctor?

            It is up to those making extraordinary claims to provide proof of them. It is not up to everone else to disprove them.

            If I claim that I grew back my amputated leg by using Granny’s Chickweed Cream and special exercises, it’s up to me to prove it.

            It’s up to the proponents and practitioners of homeopathy to prove that it works better than placebo. It’s not up to anyone else to prove that it doesn’t.

          • So you have no evidence then that people are being harmed because they take homeopathic remedies instead of taking conventional medicines?

          • So you have no evidence that homeopathy works better than placebo for any health condition?

            If I have the misfortune to develop a serious health problem, I shall certainly visit a medical practitioner, rather than doing nothing. And I would be hoping that the medical practitioner could recommend a treatment proven to work better than placebo.

          • I have no evidence that persons with any type of carcinoma do less well by standing on one leg reciting sonnetts than by going to the doctor. But in the face of it, I think it likely.

  • Not necessarily so in UK?
    . A friend of mine, who I thought of as highly intelligent and educated, argued with me when I said that the whole concept of homeopathy was the dilution of ingredient(s) many thousands of times. She said I was wrong, and that they are very potent preparations!
    Then refused to read the links I sent describing actual preparation – including those from Homeopathy websites!

    • Well, as I said before, you can only prove things beyond reasonable doubt; not beyond unreasonable doubt!

      One can only hope that your friend does not have responsibity for anyone’s treatment choices but her own……

  • Not over the counter medicines, as such: confectionery.

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