The U.S. Food & Trade Commission (FTC) is cracking down on false and misleading claims involving homeopathic medications. The Commission’s action follows a recent warning from another federal agency regarding homeopathic teething pills and gels that have been tied to hundreds of adverse events, including the deaths of 10 children.
According to a press release issued by the FTC on Tuesday, it will now “hold efficacy and safety claims for OTC [over-the-counter] homeopathic drugs to the same standard as other products making similar claims. That is, companies must have competent and reliable scientific evidence for health-related claims, including claims that a product can treat specific conditions”
In addition to requiring that homeopathic claims be backed by science, the Commission will also require that the labels clearly state that 1) there is no scientific evidence that the homeopathic product works and 2) that homeopathic theories are not accepted by most modern medical experts.
Homeopathy is an idea that dates back to the 1700s, and is based on a widely-discredited theory that the substance causing symptoms can be used in a diluted form to treat those symptoms. In the best-case scenario, a homeopathic product will only lighten a consumer’s wallet. But there have been instances were patients suffered harm after using a homeopathic medication instead of proven drug to treat a serious ailment. And some homeopathic products have even proven to be outright dangerous.
In September, for example, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) disclosed that it was investigating more than 400 adverse events, including 10 infant deaths, potentially linked to homeopathic teething pills and gels. Parents and caregivers were warned not to use these products, which are sold under various brand-names including Hyland’s and Baby Orajel Natural’s.
Following the FDA’s warning, CVS announced that it was withdrawing all homeopathic teething medications from its retail stores. Hyland’s later announced that it would discontinue U.S. sales of its homeopathic teething remedies. The same company announced a teething tablet recall in 2010, after the products were linked to a number of adverse events. The pills involved in that recall were found to contain inconsistent amounts of belladonna, which can be poisonous if ingested in large amounts.