US authorities say homeopathic remedies “must state they do not work”

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says that over-the-counter homeopathic medicines on sale in America must in future state on pack that ‘there is no scientific evidence the product works’.

An FTC Enforcement Policy Statement issued this month makes clear that US law “does not exempt homeopathic products from the general requirement that objective product claims be truthful and substantiated”.

The statement continues: “For the vast majority of OTC homeopathic drugs, 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. Accordingly, marketing claims that such homeopathic products have a therapeutic effect lack a reasonable basis and are likely misleading in violation of Sections 5 and 12 of the FTC Act.”

The agency argues that unsupported health claims included in the marketing for some of these remedies are in breach of US laws that prohibit deceptive advertising or labelling of OTC drugs. In future, it says, marketing communications and pack information for homeopathic remedies must “effectively communicate to consumers 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 that are not accepted by most modern medical experts.”