The United States Food and Drug Administration will crack down on the growing number of homeopathic drugs through a tougher enforcement approach, with the focus on the most dangerous ones in the market.
Homeopathy is an old science, though there are some critics on whether it should be called a science in the first place. Perhaps it is time for consumers to let go of old traditions and instead trust modern medicine.
The Truth Behind Homeopathic Medicines
Homeopathic medicines are based on the 18th century idea that substances that can cause the symptoms of a disease will be able to cure the same symptoms, if used in small doses.
However, numerous studies have invalidated the central ideas of homeopathy, with drugs based on the principle considered as worthless at best and dangerous at worse. A report published by Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council in February last year revealed that homeopathy was effective in treating zero out of 68 illnesses.
Homeopathic drugs, which have expanded into an industry worth $3 billion, are similar to dietary supplements, as the FDA is not tasked with reviewing the effectiveness and safety of the products before they enter the market. However, several cases over recent years have resulted in greater scrutiny against homeopathic products and the need to regulate them.
One major example was from September, when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that a horrible case of lead poisoning on a nine-month-old baby in September 2016 was due to a homeopathic teething bracelet.
The FDA's Plans Against Dangerous Homeopathic Drugs
The FDA is not planning to regulate all homeopathic medicines in the market, but it will take a closer look at the industry from now on.
"In many cases, people may be placing their trust and money in therapies that may bring little to no benefit in combating serious ailments, or worse — that may cause significant and even irreparable harm because the products are poorly manufactured, or contain active ingredients that aren't adequately tested or disclosed to patients," said Scott Gottlieb, the commissioner of the FDA, in a statement.
The FDA added that while it respects that some people prefer alternative medicine, it carries the responsibility of protecting the public against products that do not provide any benefits or could possibly cause harm.
Under the FDA's framework for homeopathic medicines, low-risk products such as Zicam Allergy Relief and Cold-Eeze will be allowed to remain in the market. Potentially dangerous homeopathic drugs include those that are injected, medicine targeting children and the elderly, and products that claim to cure serious diseases.