We reported a few weeks ago about a new warning from FDA related to the safety of certain teething-related, non-prescription homeopathic drug products, and in that post we mentioned that both FDA and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held public workshops in 2015 to gather information about this uniquely-regulated class of consumer products.  Today, FTC released an Enforcement Policy Statement on Marketing Claims for OTC Homeopathic Drugs  (available here); a Staff Report on the discussions held during the September 2015 workshop (available here); and an FTC blog post summarizing these actions.

For readers who are not familiar with homeopathy, the practice dates back to the 1700s and posits that disease symptoms can be treated by tiny doses of substances that produce similar symptoms if given in larger doses to healthy people (“like cures like”).  Accordingly, modern-day homeopathic remedies that we find ubiquitously in drug stores today are highly diluted formulations, which some people consider to be no more effective than placebo.  The FTC Staff Report provides an excellent overview of how this OTC industry has grown over the past 50 years and the viewpoints presented by both supporters and skeptics of homeopathy.

 The upshot to the new FTC Enforcement Policy is this:
 “No convincing reasons have been advanced either in the comments or the workshop as to why efficacy and safety claims for OTC homeopathic drugs should not be held to the same truth-in-advertising standards as other products claiming health benefits.”

Continue Reading FTC Issues Long-Awaited Enforcement Policy on OTC Homeopathic Drugs

California Food Labeling Fight

We have blogged regularly about the plethora of litigation, largely centered in California, focused on the labeling of food, beverage, cosmetics, and consumer goods.  Nationwide, consumers are demanding more information from manufacturers and retailers of these goods, and companies in the relevant industries seem ready, willing, and able to provide that information.  This is evidenced by many companies voluntarily going above and beyond what is required by the agency overseeing its products, as well as the GMA’s recent announcement of the SmartLabel™ Initiative, which will provide ready access to detailed product ingredient information.

Even government agencies seem to be more engaged in how that information should be provided.   For example, the USDA Biobased Program specifies what standards must be met for use of the BioBased seal, and FDA finally expressed an interest in defining “natural.”  Just when it seemed we may be getting somewhere, the California Supreme Court jumped into the middle of the fray and threw another wrench into the cog, saying that California’s broad consumer protection laws can be used as an enforcement mechanism for determining whether there is misuse of the term “organic,” despite federal regulations governing this space.
Continue Reading The Continuing Conundrum of the California Food Fight