US considers regulating homeopathy

accreditation
(Shutterstock)
(Shutterstock)

US regulators assessing homeopathic treatments' safety and efficacy could overhaul rules of the multi-billion-dollar industry.

Two days of public hearings wrapped up on Tuesday to help determine if current regulations are still relevant for the industry that has seen "explosive growth" in the last 25 years, the Food and Drug Administration said in a statement.

Warning letters

The agency says it sent dozens of warning letters to companies that manufacture homeopathic products since 2009.

Read: Australian study calls homeopathy 'useless'

The FDA warned consumers in March against the risk of using homeopathic products to treat asthma because their safety and effectiveness have not been determined.

Homeopathy involves treating an ailment with diluted substances that produce similar symptoms, trying to prompt a protective immune response in the user.

The treatment assumes that the effect of the drug, often herbal, increases in proportion with the level of dilution.

A big market

US consumers spent some $2.9bn yearly on the homeopathic products, the Centres for Control and Prevention of Diseases estimated in 2007.

Homeopathic products have not been regulated by US authorities since 1972 when the agency decided not to approve the products' placement on store shelves as it does for drugs.

Read: Homeopathy for behaviour disorders in kids

A lack of regulation, that lets the public self-treat conditions with scientifically unproven products, has raised the ire of the medical community.

"I am concerned about the current state of labelling for homeopathic remedies, particularly OTC (over the counter) preparations," said Adriane Fugh-Berman a professor of pharmacology at Georgetown University.

No review of homeopathic drugs

"Many consumers have no idea what homeopathy is," said Fugh-Berman. "Most consumers and probably most health professionals are unaware that FDA does not review homeopathic drugs for safety or efficacy."

Fugh-Berman said there is no reliable evidence that homeopathic treatments work to treat any condition.

Read: 10 celebrity fans of homeopathy

A recent report from Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council concluded the same based on 176 studies, echoing a report by the US National Institutes of Health.

"Several key concepts of homeopathy are inconsistent with fundamental concepts of chemistry and physics," the NIH statement said.

For their part, supporters of homeopathy defend their non-conventional medicines.

Lisa Amerine from the Homeopathic Academy of Naturopathic Physicians said homeopathic treatments should continue to be sold as they are because they are "safe and it is fairly easy for the consumer to understand what to buy should they have a minor health ailment".

Also read:

Homeopathy slammed in Japan

Homeopathy – a gift or con?

What are complementary therapies?

Image: Homeopathic globules from Shutterstock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 836 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
83% - 9616 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
10% - 1123 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.98
+0.1%
Rand - Pound
20.14
-0.2%
Rand - Euro
17.63
-0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.55
-0.1%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.1%
Gold
1,712.61
-0.0%
Silver
20.79
+0.6%
Palladium
2,275.50
+0.6%
Platinum
933.00
+0.8%
Brent Crude
94.42
+1.1%
Top 40
59,272
-0.2%
All Share
65,669
-0.3%
Resource 10
63,678
+0.6%
Industrial 25
79,478
-0.7%
Financial 15
13,991
-0.0%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE