How the FDA Can More Effectively Regulate Homeopathic Products April 20, 2015

How the FDA Can More Effectively Regulate Homeopathic Products

Earlier today, the Food and Drug Administration held a public hearing on the topic of “Homeopathic Product Regulation” and the Center For Inquiry’s Michael De Dora offered testimony on the issue.


Since banning homeopathic medicine is out of the question, what should the government do? De Dora offered these suggestions:

Testing for homeopathic products. As the FDA recognizes, the federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act does not exempt homeopathic products from meeting the same standards of safety and efficacy as non-homeopathic drugs. Nor does this Act prevent the FDA from enforcing these standards. In order to protect public health, we urge the FDA to mandate that all homeopathic products on the market pass safety and efficacy tests equivalent to those required of nonhomeopathic drugs on the market.

Labeling for homeopathic products. Labeling on homeopathic products needs to improve; this is especially true if the FDA does not require they be tested for safety and efficacy, as this would allow dangerous homeopathic products to remain on the market without warning, marketed to a public that is unaware homeopathic products are different in kind from non-homeopathic drugs. Currently many homeopathic products boast that they are regulated by the FDA without explaining they are not subject to testing. This is seriously misleading. We therefore urge the FDA to ensure that all homeopathic products prominently state two things:

  1. The product’s claimed active ingredients in plain English, and;
  2. That the product has not been evaluated by the FDA for either safety or effectiveness.

Regular consumer warnings. We have been encouraged by the FDA’s recent announcements warning consumers that homeopathic products will not treat their illnesses. Given the lack of public knowledge on homeopathy, we urge the FDA to make such announcements on a regular basis, especially, but not only, during times of illness outbreaks and public health crises.

Those are incredibly practical suggestions and there’s no reason the FDA can’t apply them. The question is whether they have the will to do it.

De Dora concluded his speech with a plea to the FDA:

To ensure the protection of the American public, the FDA should rely on its well-established regulatory system to require homeopathic products to meet the same standards as non-homeopathic drugs, or at the least mandate labeling for homeopathic products which states: the product’s claimed active ingredients in plain English; and that the product has not been evaluated by the FDA for safety or effectiveness. The American public deserves as much from the agency tasked with protecting them. Thank you.

Given that many of the other speakers at this hearing are proponents of these placebos-masquerading-as-real-medicine, I’m thrilled that De Dora was there representing those of us who don’t belong to the Dr. Oz Fan Club.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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