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JREF to Congress: “Homeopathy Awareness Week” Should Be a Time to Tell the Truth about Quack Medicines

LOS ANGELES—For this year’s “World Homeopathy Awareness Week,” the James Randi Educational Foundation (JREF) issued a strong statement against the misleading advertising of homeopathic medicines and called on Congress to close the loophole exempting these quack products from certain FDA regulations.

“So-called homeopathic remedies may be the only products given a free pass to say they’re intended to treat disease, without any proof at all that they work.” JREF President D.J. Grothe said.

“Drugs have to be tested for safety and potency before they can be sold. Supplements have to carry disclaimers, telling consumers that their claims have not been evaluated by the FDA. Homeopathy is exempt from these requirements because of a law passed more than 70 years ago. It’s time to close the loophole and make manufactures of these quack medications play by the same rules as everyone else.”

On Feb. 5, the JREF put $1 million on the table for any manufacturer or homeopath who could demonstrate that their homeopathic products were effective under fair observing conditions. In the months since, none have come forward to claim the prize. 

The JREF invites consumers to send a message to members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, which oversees the FDA, and ask them to close the loophole that allows misleading claims by manufacturers of quack medicine:

The facts about homeopathic remedies:

  • No Ingredients: Homeopathic remedies are so extremely dilute that most do not contain a single atom of their claimed active ingredient. The most popular homeopathic remedy, oscillococcinum, is based on a dilution of one part duck liver to 10^400 parts of water. 10^400 is the number 1 with 400 zeroes after it. To make such a dilution, you’d have to mix a single molecule of duck liver with more matter than exists in the entire known universe.

  • No Testing: Homeopathic remedies are exempted from regulations requiring drugs to prove they’re effective and accurately labeled with respect to dosage and potency. What’s more, homeopathic remedies were never even tested by their inventors to make sure they work. Homeopathic remedies are invented by a process homeopaths call “proving”: they give a substance to a healthy person, observe the symptoms it causes, and then take it on faith that homeopathic doses of the same substance will cure those symptoms. For example, coffee causes sleeplessness—that’s all homeopaths need to know in order to prescribe homeopathically-diluted coffee as sleeping pills, called “coffea cruda.” According to homeopathic principles, there’s no need to test whether it actually helps anyone sleep.

  • No Facts: Major pharmacy chains like CVS, Walgreens, and Rite Aid sell useless homeopathic products right alongside real medicine, with no warning to consumers. Manufacturers and retailers profit by denying customers the facts they need to make up their minds. U.S. law exempts homeopathy from certain rules that govern drugs and nutritional supplements, so manufacturers can market homeopathic remedies for the treatment of illnesses despite the fact that reputable studies show homeopathy to work no better than dummy pills made of plain sugar.

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The James Randi Educational Foundation was founded in 1996 to expose charlatans and help people defend themselves from paranormal and pseudoscientific claims. The JREF offers a still-unclaimed million-dollar reward for anyone who can produce evidence of paranormal abilities under controlled conditions. Through scholarships, workshops, and innovative resources for educators, the JREF works to inspire this investigative spirit in a new generation of critical thinkers. |