FDA to look into whether it should be regulating homeopathies

Here’s news that will be of interest to those of you who try to eskew Western medicine where possible in favor of more tradition (others would say unproven) remedies: The FDA this week will look into whether it should be regulating these medicines.

NPR dove deep into the issue Monday morning:

Homeopathic medicine has long been controversial. It’s based on an idea known as “like cures like,” which means if you give somebody a dose of a substance — such as a plant or a mineral — that can cause the symptoms of their illness, it can, in theory, cure that illness if the substance has been diluted so much that it’s essentially no longer in the dose.

Critics say those ideas are nonsense, and that study after study has failed to find any evidence that homeopathy works.

“Homeopathy is an excellent example of the purest form of pseudoscience,” saysSteven Novella, a neurologist at Yale and executive editor of the website Science-Based Medicine. “These are principles that are not based upon science.”

Novella thinks consumers are wasting their money on homeopathic remedies. The cost of such treatments vary, with some over-the-counter products costing less than $10.

Some of the costs, such as visits to doctors and the therapies they prescribe, may be covered by insurance. But Novella says with so many people using homeopathic remedies, the costs add up.

There’s also some concern that homeopathic remedies could be dangerous if they’re contaminated or not completely diluted, or even if they simply don’t work.

As NPR makes clear, this doesn’t mean regulation is on the horizon. The FDA just is seeking some information of what, if anything, it might or ought to do. But I’m guessing the hearings will be pretty high energy.

Posted by Steve