Effective immediately, the Federal Trade Commission will now hold over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic “drugs” to the same standard as other products, forcing the industry to start providing credible scientific evidence for health related claims.
In a new policy statement issued on November 16, the FTC will now force homeopathic drug manufacturers to back up claims that their drugs can treat health conditions that can range anywhere from ear aches to heart disease.
As the FTC explains, homeopathy, which dates back to the 1700s, is based on the theory that disease symptoms can be treated by minute doses of substances that produce similar symptoms when provided in larger doses to healthy people. Many homeopathic products are diluted to such an extent that they no longer contain detectable levels of the initial substance. Homeopathic theories are not accepted by most modern medical experts.
For the vast majority of homeopathic solutions,“the case for efficacy is based solely on traditional homeopathic theories and there are no valid studies using current scientific methods showing the product’s efficacy,” the statement reads. As such, the marketing claims for these products are likely misleading and in violation of the FTC Act.
The policy statement also notes that “the FTC . . . recognizes that an OTC homeopathic drug claim that is not substantiated by competent and reliable scientific evidence might not be deceptive if the advertisement or label where it appears effectively communicates that: 1) there is no scientific evidence that the product works; and 2) the product’s claims are based only on theories of homeopathy from the 1700s that are not accepted by most modern medical experts.”
For this reason, it is requiring that labeling must “stand out and be in close proximity to the product’s efficacy message.”
In other words, consumers must be informed that there is no scientific backing to the product and that it’s claims are based upon theories that date back 400 years.