On September 21, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission held a 4 -hour workshop on homeopathic advertising. The topics included: (a) changes in the homeopathic market, its advertising, and what consumers know, (b) scientific research that tested whether homeopathic products are effective, (c) the effects of recent class actions against homeopathic product companies, (d) how Section 5 of the FTC Act should be applied to advertising claims for homeopathic products, and (e) public policy concerns about the current regulation of homeopathic products. The speaker list and a Webcast of the proceedings are available online. (Click “Event Speakers” to display the speaker list.)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is also reviewing its homeopathic policies. During the public comment period, the FTC staff noted that the FDA’s homeopathic Compliance Policy Guide CPG 7132.15, which does not require proof of effectiveness, clashes with FTC laws that require that advertising be truthful and based on reliable scientific evidence. The FTC staff’s 99-page report also noted (based on the FTC’s own research) that a significant percentage of consumers do not understand the nature of homeopathic products or how they are regulated. Dr. Stephen Barrett has asked both agencies not to permit product labels or advertising to include any health or safety claims—including any implied by product names—that have not been approved through the FDA’s standard drug approval process. [FDA submission] [FTC submission] Homeopathic labeling regulations in Canada and the United Kingdom are similar to those of the FDA, but the British Advertising Standards Authority has been tougher on advertising claims.