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Center for Inquiry Lauds FTC for Curbing Homeopathy’s False Advertising

November 16, 2016

The Center for Inquiry praised the Federal Trade Commission’s new enforcement policy statement on the marketing of homeopathic drugs, promising to hold the health-related claims made by the manufacturers of these pseudoscientific “alternative” remedies to the same standards as any other remedies. CFI has been leading the effort to press federal agencies to take seriously the harms posed by homeopathy, and is cited in the FTC’s full report.

In its statement the FTC declared that homeopathic products cannot include claims of effectiveness without “competent and reliable scientific evidence.” If no such evidence exists, they must state this fact clearly on their labeling, and state that the product’s claims are based only on 18th-century theories that have been discarded by modern science. Failure to do so will be considered a violation of the FTC Act.

“This is a real victory for reason, science, and the health of the American people,” said Michael De Dora, public policy director for the Center for Inquiry. “The FTC has made the right decision to hold manufacturers accountable for the absolutely baseless assertions they make about homeopathic products.”

“Consumers can’t help but be confused when snake oil is placed on the same pharmacy shelves as real science-based medicine, and they throw away billions of dollars every year on homeopathy based on its false promises,” said De Dora. “The dangers of homeopathy are very real, for when people choose these deceptive, useless products over proven, effective medicine, they risk their health and the health of their families.”

CFI filed comments last year urging the FTC to “protect the American public” by ending the false advertising of homeopathy. CFI was also invited to testify before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) about homeopathy’s potential harm and the need to hold homeopathic drugs to the same standards of safety and efficacy as conventional medicine. De Dora testified for CFI on April 20, 2015. 

“It still remains for the Food and Drug Administration to do its duty, and see to it that homeopathic products are as rigorously vetted as any other health product on the market,” said De Dora.

Homeopathy is an 18th-century pseudoscientific practice based on the idea that infinitesimal dilutions of a substance, where literally nothing remains of the original ingredient, can endow water with a “memory” of the substance’s properties, thereby providing a “cure.” Homeopathy has been utterly rejected by modern science-based medicine, as no evidence exists of its effectiveness beyond a placebo effect in treating any ailment whatsoever. Nevertheless, millions of Americans spend billions of dollars annually on misleadingly labeled and marketed homeopathic remedies, often in place of real medicine, putting their health at risk with the use of products such as homeopathic “vaccines” and asthma treatments, which have no medicinal properties.


The Center for Inquiry (CFI) is a nonprofit educational, advocacy, and research organization headquartered in Amherst, New York, with executive offices in Washington, D.C. It is also home to both the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, the Council for Secular Humanism, and will soon be home to the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science. The mission of CFI is to foster a secular society based on science, reason, freedom of inquiry, and humanist values. Visit CFI on the web at http://www.centerforinquiry.net.