The Center for Inquiry and the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science are urging the Federal Trade Commission to put an end to false advertising by the manufacturers of homeopathic products. They point to the overwhelming scientific consensus that these pseudoscientific alternative remedies have no effect (other than a placebo effect) on any condition, and harm consumers who rely on them in lieu of real, science-based medicine.
CFI and the Dawkins Foundation, jointly filing comments, remind the FTC that its mandate is “to protect the American public, not to safeguard the sales of relics from the cabinets of 18th century medicine.” They argue that the FTC should use its authority to stop manufacturers from falsely advertising homeopathy’s safety or efficacy until such claims can be scientifically proven. The FTC itself has recently expressed its own concern about the harm to American consumers posed by the unsubstantiated claims of the homeopathy industry.
“Homeopathy does not work, has never been proven to work, and based on universally accepted, fundamental scientific principles, it cannot work,” said Michael De Dora, director of public policy for the Center for Inquiry. “Nonetheless, the homeopathy industry enriches itself by deceiving consumers by falsely promising to cure all manner of conditions, wasting Americans’ money and putting their health at risk.
“The FTC has a mandate to protect Americans from this kind of dangerous misinformation, and we strongly urge them to act on that mandate.”
“Homeopathy isn’t real medicine. It’s snake oil, and its manufacturers have evaded regulatory scrutiny for far too long with tragic consequences,” said Robyn Blumner, president & CEO of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. “The FTC needs to end this dangerous deception of American consumers.”
Homeopathy is an 18th century, pre-scientific concept based on the fiction that “like cures like,” compounded with the fantastical idea that water can retain a “memory” of a given substance once diluted to an infinitesimal degree, to the point that literally nothing of the original ingredient remains. Homeopathy has been entirely disproven and rejected by modern science, with zero evidence of effectiveness in treating any condition, beyond a placebo effect. In the UK, government health officials are considering blacklisting homeopathic products from the National Health Service altogether.
Yet Americans continue to throw away billions of dollars on homeopathic products, and too often use them in place of actual medicine, putting their health at serious risk with useless products such as homeopathic “vaccines” and asthma treatments.
CFI and the Dawkins Foundation point to Sections 5 and 12 of the FTC Act that prohibit both the “unfair or deceptive acts or practices” in commerce and “the dissemination of false advertisements” related to drugs. “Homeopathic products clearly fall within these parameters,” De Dora said. “Homeopathic products are consistently advertised as both effective and safe in addressing a range of health conditions. Yet, empirical studies have illustrated decisively and repeatedly these claims are false.”
Earlier this year, the Center for Inquiry publicly testified before the Food and Drug Administration to argue that homeopathic remedies must be held to the same standards for safety and efficacy as any other drug.
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The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and the Council for Secular Humanism. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. CFI‘s web address is www.centerforinquiry.net.
The Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science is a nonprofit organization headquartered in Washington, D.C., whose mission is to remove the influence of religion in science education and public policy, and eliminate the stigma that surrounds atheism and non-belief.