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

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a charitable nonprofit organization dedicated to defending science and critical thinking. CFI’s vision is a world in which evidence, science, and compassion—rather than superstition, pseudoscience, or prejudice—guide public policy.

It has been reported that the CFI, through its Office of Consumer Protection from Pseudoscience, warned Amazon.com that the marketing and sale of unapproved homeopathic drugs betrays consumers’ trust and runs afoul of federal law. In a letter sent to the world’s largest online retailer, attorneys for CFI charged that Amazon has legal and moral obligations to end its trade in the prohibited items and urged the company to immediately cease the sale of unapproved drugs marketed as medicine for babies, infants, and children.

In Amazon’s Health Care Products department, a search for “homeopathic” returns more than 10,000 product results–each claiming to treat a host of health issues, ranging from “nerve pain” and “fever” to “surgical wounds” and “fibroids and ovarian cysts.” Marketed with names such as “Boiron RhinAllergy Kids” and “Hyland’s 4Kids Pain Relief,” many items are explicitly sold as medicine for children. However, not one homeopathic drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as required by the federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act.

“Amazon built its business and public reputation on assurances it prioritizes consumer trust above all else,” says CFI Vice President and General Counsel Nick Little. “It’s impossible to be ‘Earth’s most customer-centric company’ while aggressively promoting thousands of snake oil products to parents. If Amazon truly wants to put its customers first, the company should be protecting them from sellers of sham treatments and faux medicine, not profiting from it.”

The FDA recently issued a warning letter to Amazon over the platform’s prohibited sale of mole and skin tag removal products that lack FDA approval. CFI makes clear that the same prohibitions apply to homeopathic drugs sold on Amazon.com. The letter also highlights deceptive marketing practices used to sell the products, noting that the industry’s own figures found 85 percent of those who purchased a brand of homeopathic product were not aware the item was actually homeopathic.

“Amazon recently announced partnerships to help crack-down on phony wrestling memorabilia,” Little notes. “We think protecting children against harmful homeopathic drugs is a bit more deserving of the company’s attention and hope Amazon accepts our offer to help identify these particularly problematic products for removal.”

You can read CFI’s letter to Amazon here.

14 Responses to Center for Inquiry Warns Amazon: Stop Promoting Homeopathy for Kids

  • Bravo!!! CFI is doing the right thing.

    That statistic of 85% of unaware people purchasing homeopathic products says a lot, but I fear that it says more about consumers than about SCAM hucksters.

  • The (over the counter) selling of conventional meds is a much bigger problem with
    dangers that are far more serious.
    Besides that, almost every regular pharmacy sells homeopatic products.
    CFI should look in the mirror..

    • in contrast to homeopathics, the OTC conventional meds have some benefit
      IT’S THE RISK/BENEFIT RATIO THAT DETERMINES USEFULNESS!

    • My local pharmacist, who is superintendent of a chain of pharmacies and Vice-Chair of Community Pharmacy Scotland, is dead against homeopathy, and won’t be selling homeopathic products in his shops any time soon.

    • They can do both. If I recall correctly, they have v called for pharmacies to stop settling homeopathic products. I also suggest you have a look at the fallacy of relative privation “dismissing an argument or complaint due to what are perceived to be more important problems.” There are always more important problems. That doesn’t mean you can’t tackle easier ones. Does writing to Amazon prevent the CFI from tackling the other problems? No.

      Also your comment that “CFI should look in the mirror” is a bit odd. That’s usually said when someone is doing something they say others shouldn’t do. So I’m not sure what you mean.

  • Homeopathic medicines dont need “approval” from the FDA.. No law is being violated.
    These proposed FDA marketing regulations dont seem to have been approved yet. It may yet be thrown out in court since there is already the HPUS which covers homeopathic remedies.. They are over-stepping their bounds.
    https://www.regulations.gov/docket/FDA-2017-D-6580

    Quote: There are no FDA-approved products labeled as homeopathic; this means that any product labeled as homeopathic is being marketed in the U.S. without FDA evaluation for safety or effectiveness.

    Because they dont need it. The laws currently presume that adults can responsibly manage their own care and those of their children with homeopathic medicines. They dont need the nanny state telling them what to take.

    The number of complaints about homeopathic medicine is so minuscule. Of course CFI doesnt care about real threats, just threats to their belief system.

    • @Stan

      The laws currently presume that adults can responsibly manage their own care and those of their children with homeopathic medicines. They dont need the nanny state telling them what to take.

      Homeopathy is not ‘care’. It is fraud, deception – and laws should protect citizens from being defrauded.

      But you obviously are pro-fraud, and like to see people pay for something that they are promised but will never receive (i.e. effective healthcare products).

      Are you by any chance a criminal yourself?

    • “The laws currently presume that adults can responsibly manage their own care and those of their children with homeopathic medicines. They dont need the nanny state telling them what to take.”

      You mean parents like this woman attending a “freedom” [anti-vaxx] protest?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=esfAE3FgETg

      Her name is Sadie Single and she is an anti-vaxxer, woo woo peddling “school teacher” with the Hope Sussex “personalised education project” [many would say cult] and, as she clearly states in the video, she is supported by [aspiring paramiliatary group] Alpha Team Assemble / Alpha Men Assemble.

      You can see a Channel 4 piece on ATA/AMA here where they are training in martial arts, however claim that they are not violent. There are reporting restrictions linked to child protection re some elements of the AMA/ATA and I will not be sharing details of some issues for that reason.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9w7znks-h5A

      You may also wish to see the Hope Sussex “school teacher” Sadie Single *cough* not being violent in the below video

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z6f216ACFDg

      and talking about her work with Hope Sussex here

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVaIBiB2FfI

      As you can see, a charming lady, definitely suited to working in child education.

      So, Stan, going back to your comment about the nanny state, you could be reading directly from the Hope Sussex / ATA/AMA songsheet.

      According to these conspiratorial groups actual doctors, surgeons, epidemiologists, virologists and the like are all evil oppressors out to harm people. The fact that at least one of the seriously ill patients they they have “rescued” from a hospital has died proves nothing to them, but then they do not really understand evidence, or reality for that matter.

      Another Hope Sussex children’s school teacher, Katy Jo Murfin, demonstrates her opinions on covid vaccines here
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nt0ctpISGHk

      The narratives regarding the need to “liberate” people from the evil clutches of doctors and hospitals has many similarities to the discourses around Brexit and the need to liberate the British people from the “oppression” of the EU. It is similar to the narratives of freedom and empowerment promoted by the Marlboro tobacco company to sell their cigarettes.

      Enslavement and tyranny are often marketed as freedom and liberation and there seldom arises a tyrant who, at one point, was not hailed as a liberator.

      Stan your views about freedoms and the nanny state are opinions I am very familiar with. They are highly attractive narratives to people who claim to know The Truth about all manner of things yet who lack even a basic understanding of science.

      You are of course entitled to your opinion no matter how badly informed. The thing that concerns me very much is that various people who share your beliefs are setting up organisations to educate children and involving themselves in paramilitary organisations that aspire to arrest and to punish scientists, doctors and other helpful people for imaginary crimes.

      From their network connections it is clear that they are not simply deluded or badly educated people, they are demonstrating the symptoms of Operation Secondary Infektion.

      • A video from the deeply concerning pro-Russian disinformation “news” organisation UK Column
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7pKSNJFhbM

        Katy-Jo Murfin of Hope Sussex is interviewed at aprox 00:51:15

        This interview is evidence of Operation Secondary Infektion. There are many other indicators but this one is easy to observe via the interview in the above video.

      • @Louise
        I think that the core fallacy in Stan’s reasoning is in fact quite simple: it is the concept of ‘expertise’.

        No-one has inherent knowledge of what is and what isn’t an effective treatment, and even prior personal experience with sickness, health and associated treatments does not result in reliable knowledge. We ALL listen to and trust(!) ‘experts’ to decide on the type of healthcare that we accept.
        The quotes indicate that there are real, trustworthy experts out there, but also false experts. The real experts are the scientists who actually studied the efficacy of treatments; these people are part of science-based medicine.
        Homeopaths and other alternative practitioners are the false experts: they claim (or strongly suggest) that treatment X works, but do so without proper scientific evidence – and often even in spite of scientific evidence that it doesn’t work.

        Most people lack the scientific knowledge to decide for themselves what sort of treatment is best for them – but the base problem from judging which treatment is effective or not has now shifted to to judging whom to trust. In other words: they still run into the problem of insufficient knowledge: judging the trustworthiness of one type of practitioner over another (conventional vs. alternative) again requires knowledge that none of us inherently has.
        For many, the default choice is then to trust science-based experts, often because science has proven itself wildly successful – but it is completely to be expected that quite a few people put their trust in false experts, so homeopaths and the likes. All we can do is educate people to the best of our ability.

  • @Richard Rasker

    “Most people lack the scientific knowledge to decide for themselves what sort of treatment is best for them”

    Agreed, just as most British people, including some politicians, do not understand the complexities of Brexit.

    I, for example, know that I do not know the complexities of Brexit and I am not a trained doctor. I have some knowledge of the issues regrding medicine and Brexit, probably more than the average person on the street, but this does not make me an expert, of course.

    To put it succinctly, I know enough to know that there is much I do not know.

    The most highly trained doctors, surgeons and scientists will recognise that they are always learning and that the more they know the more they appreciate that they do not know.

    Quacks and snake oil peddlers are similar to populist political leaders and cult leaders inasmuch as they speak with absolute certainty about the validity of their claims even when they are mistaken or lying through their teeth.

    Unfortunately many people are swayed by the confident proclamations of quacks and populist politicians over the measured, cautious, provisional claims of doctors and scientists. The Dunning Kruger Effect explains this cognitive bias very well.

    “All we can do is educate people to the best of our ability”

    Agreed, however the million $ question is how to educate people given that we are in the middle of a disinformation war.

    The issue is further complicated by the fact that there are many properly qualified doctors and scientists who are promoting pseudoscience, the remarkable Hart Group being especially interesting in this respect.

    Just sharing facts will not be effective. We have to think creatively and learn from the opponent. IMO. No time to write more at the moment

  • (Yes, I know this violates Rule #1)

    I just stumbled upon an entertaining video “The End of Homeopathy”, from the German public broadcast organization ZDF.

    Leider nur für die deutschsprachige Leser hier, aber jedoch sehr unterhaltsam: „Das Ende der Homöopathie“

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IK5BZdnqMDU

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