The US Food and Drug Administration, or FDA, has announced a plan that the agency says will protect US consumers from unproven (and as we’ve seen in recent months, deadly) homeopathic remedies.
Homeopathy is a two-centuries-old medical system created by Samuel Hahnemann. Homeopathy is based on the idea that extremely dilute tinctures–often so dilute that not even a single molecule of the “active” constituent can be found in some doses–can spur the body’s natural defenses to fight disease. It has long been regarded as pseudoscience but remains popular in Europe and, to a lesser extent, Asia.
Homeopathy is also used here in the U.S., where homeopathic remedies are supposed to be held to the same standards as pharmaceutical drugs, but are widely available over the counter. FDA estimates that consumers now spend $3 billion a year on them.
And some of those remedies have proven dangerous in recent years. Many of us watched, outraged, as the company behind the Hyland brand dragged its feet for months before finally recalling homeopathic teething tablets the FDA claims poisoned infants with what the agency characterized as inconsistent levels of belladonna.
In today’s press release, FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb seems to suggest that FDA will be especially targeting remedies with little to no scientific evidence behind them. Special scrutiny will be exercised for remedies peddled for serious medical conditions like cancer and remedies made with ingredients considered unsafe at any dosage.
The public will have 90 days to comment on this new crackdown.
Photo by Matt Briney on Unsplash