In 2020, a German court had ruled that pharmacies should be allowed to advertise homeopathic products by naming their alleged source materials, even if the dilution is so high that there is nothing in the products. An appeal against this was launched and it has now ended in defeat. The consequences for homeopathy could be far-reaching.

In homeopathy, it is customary to label and advertise products by naming the starting material or ‘mother tincture’. A German pharmacy thus named one of its products “HCG C30 globules” – HCG is a pregnancy hormone, C30 means it is diluted 30 times in the ratio 1:10o.  A group sued arguing that this was misleading.

The Darmstadt Regional Court first ruled that just because the original substance is no longer detectable does not mean that it is no longer present. And in any case, proponents of homeopathy would consider a high dilution to be important in order to reduce side effects. This ruling and the way it was justified caused considerable criticism. However, the plaintiff did not let up and appealed.

In the second instance, the Frankfurt Higher Regional Court (Case No. 6 U 49/20) took a completely different view of the matter. In the appeal hearing, it clarified first that advertisements for homeopathy address not only enthusiasts of homeopathy but the general public. Therefore, it must be in accordance with the general understanding of the population. And the public expects a product labeled “HCG” to actually contain the pregnancy hormone. If this ingredient cannot be detected, the product labeling would be misleading.

In essence, this means that all high potency homeopathic remedies (all beyond a C12) may no longer print the name of the mother tincture on the label. One can expect that this will seriously impact the sales of homeopathic products in Germany. This might re-open the discussion on the question of whether pharmacies should sell homeopathic preparations in the first place. As I have pointed out ad nauseam (e.g. here, here, and here), if pharmacists offer them to their customers pretending they are effective medicines, they violate their own ethical code. In other words, there is no place for homeopathy in pharmacies.


8 Responses to Very bad news for homeopathy in Germany

  • Sorry to pour some water into your wine.

    This court’s decision might affect only such homeopathic (and other) products that the pharmacist produces in his own shop and sells to his costomers. Other products, produced bypharmaceutrical companies and registered according to the German pharmaceutical law (“Arzneimittelgesetz”) may remain unaffected: These potions are officially deemed to be drugs and are registered under the name they carry today.

    in addition the pharamcist is free to chose any fancy name for his product that might even be more misleading than the name of the mother tincture. “Dr. John Doe’s high potency pregnancy pillules” may even be more irritating than “HCG C30”

    • These potions are officially deemed to be drugs and are registered under the name they carry today.

      If those potions don’t contain a single molecule of what it says on the label(*), then I think you can argue that customers are being defrauded.

      Apart from this, I think it would generally be a good idea if the law is changed to take away homeopathy’s current privileges, which are IMO completely undeserved:
      – Homeopathic preparations have the privilege of being registered as ‘medicines’ without any testing whatsoever; it is enough to declare that they are manufactured in accordance with ‘homeopathic principles’.
      – Homeopathic preparations are not subject to post-market surveillance or mandatory quality control – even bottled water is subject to far more stringent regulations.

      *: I’ve always wondered why homeopaths are permitted to list ‘active ingredients’ that are almost by definition NOT present in their concoctions (and thus, by any meaning of the word, are not an ingredient) – and, conversely, list ingredients that are present and have proven effects (e.g. ethanol) as ‘inactive’.

      • That is what we try to achieve: To remove homeopathy from the legislation on drugs in Germany and Europe. Which would put an end to the requirement, that homeopathic products are to be sold in pharmacies only. But unfortunately there is a very strong lobby interested to continue this very profitable business as before – and the authorities currently have much more urgent problems with the official health system.

    • Hmmm, a bit like Nelsons’ re-branding of Bach Rescue Remedy (not homeopathic, I know) as “Rescura”.

      My local pharmacist, a past Vice-President of Community Pharmacy Scotland, is dead against homeopathic ‘remedies’ and won’t have them in his shops. Going off-topic: he has had an interesting idea for a pharmacy he recently opened in a nearby town:

      The location of this particular premises makes the idea a good one, I think.

  • Why cannot homeopaths demonstrate professional integrity and promote their products as “excellent placebos for persons with particular (some might say, peculiar) sensitivities”?

    If the only reason is: “To perpetrate fraud and inorder to take advantage of the vulnerable and gullible and profit from their ignorance” – then that is to be deprecated.
    But is there another answer?
    They must tell us.

  • As a side note.

    Vendors of homeopathic HCG when marketed in conjunction with a very low calorie diet (VLCD) were the subject of regulatory action in the US and to a lesser degree in some other countries too. In the UK, Helios Homeopathy were selling it illegally in conjunction with a VLCD book by the late fad diet promoter Leslie Kenton. It is surprising that greater action wasn’t taken against Helios at the time.

    VLCDs are understood to be potentially harmful especially without medical supervision.

    I’m sure that homeopathic pharmacies will claim that homeopathic HCG has many uses. Certainly in the UK have they have claimed this with remedies involved in CEASE therapies, eg those made from vaccines when regulators asked questions.

  • I finally got round to reviewing “Homeopathy, The Undiluted Facts” on

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