"Walmart Store Sign" by Mike Mozart / CC BY-SA 3.0

Walmart And Homeopathic Medicines

Jun 4, 2019

NPR’s Scott Simon asks Nicholas Little of the Center for Inquiry about suing Walmart for the way it markets homeopathic medicines.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Walmart is being sued over what are called homeopathic medicines, not for selling them but for how they’re sold. The Center for Inquiry has filed a lawsuit against Walmart for consumer fraud for putting and promoting homeopathic remedies, which are not supported by science, on shelves alongside medically approved medications. Nicholas Little joins us in our studios. He’s vice president and general counsel of the Center for Inquiry. Mr. Little, thanks so much for being with us.

NICHOLAS LITTLE: Well, thank you for having me.

SIMON: We should make plain. Homeopathic is not herbal, right?

LITTLE: No. What homeopathy is – it has two principles. The first principle is the idea that like treats like. So if something causes a symptom, you use it to treat it. And somehow they come around to the idea that flu symptoms are caused by the heart and liver of a particular kind of duck so that they treat it with the heart and the liver of a particular kind of duck. But even more unscientifically, it’s the – the second principle is the law of infinitesimal doses. So what homeopathy says is that the more you dilute a product – the further you dilute it down, the more powerful it becomes. And they base this on the idea that water has a memory. It can remember what is dissolved in it even when there is none of the alleged active ingredient left. This is one of the most ludicrous things suggested. And yet billions of dollars every year in the United States are spent on these products. And most people simply don’t know what they’re buying. They’re being defrauded by the companies that manufacture them and by the retailers who market them.

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