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.
“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.”